In light of the recent article in the New York Times on Asian Americans marrying each other in increasing numbers, I dove into one of the studies mentioned and found even more fascinating, if disturbing, facts.
It was interesting to see this article in the New York Times yesterday, “For Asian-American Couples, A Tie That Binds”— never mind the fact that we haven’t used a dash in “Asian Americans” for decades— brought to my attention by Twanna Hines, @funkybrownchick. Although it was very sweet and hopeful to read, I’m not sure upon further reflection if it really provided much new insights or data. The writer mentions that while interracial marriages are at an all-time high in the U.S., between Asians it has been decreasing for the last 10 years. A fact which I also discussed recently in this post. She did note a couple interesting recent studies on interracial marriages at Journal of Marriage and Family and Pew Research Center.
I found it very hopeful and sweet to read the Asian American couples’ stories. Personally, what I find more intriguing and puzzling, however, is when Asians— usually women— prefer dating white men to Asian men. As I delved more into the Pew study myself—titled, “The Rise of Intermarriage: Rates, Characteristics Vary by Race and Gender” by Wendy Wang— some fascinating data came to light:
Wang notes that prior to 1980, on average, amongst white husband-Asian wife couples, the white men were just 1.2 years older than their wives. However, after 1980, the average age difference jumped to 4.8 years gap. More on this, below.
Another study Wang mentions analyzed the “stability” of interracial marriages and noted that on the whole, interracial marriages were less stable: Mixed marriages involving blacks and whites were the least stable followed by Hispanics-white couples. However, among Asian/white couples they were even more stable than white/white marriages.
This is very interesting to me. First of all, simply because a marriage does not end does not mean that it is “stable.” Whatever stable means. They could very well be together and not happy. (I won’t mention how many of those I personally know or at least not who.) I am not at all surprised that Asian/white couples stayed together more than other interracial couples—it is definitely outside of Asian tradition to divorce or “give up trying”—but that does not necessarily mean it is a “successful” marriage.
These two charts I found interesting as well. Asian/white couples make the most money, while Asian/Asian couples come in third. However, education-wise, Asian/Asian couples are the most educated. Not necessarily surprising. It will be interesting to see as the younger start-up generation and Facebook generation gets older if they will be less educated, and make more money. Hmm.
Amongst all interracial couples married between 2008 and 2010, the husband is on average about 2.5 years older than his wife. However, as I mentioned earlier, white husband/Asian wife couples are more than twice that with an age difference of more than five years. More on this below.
First time newlyweds? Among Asian/Asian couples, almost 80% were first time newlyweds. Close behind are Asian husband/White wife couples at 70%. However, in a rare case of being last on the list of all interracial marriages, White husband/Asian wife couples rank the lowest of first time newlyweds at 54%. Hmm… which only brings up more questions—but for more details read on!
Above is another fascinatingly telling chart. This chart highlights the huge distinction between white husband/Asian wife couples and white wife/Asian husband couples. If you look at the row of “H older than W by 10+ years” (a large gap if I may say so myself) the percentage of white husband/Asian wife couples is a high 25% versus white/white and Asian/Asian and even Asian husband/white wife couples averaging around 8-10%. Among those white husband/Asian wife couples, 21% of those white husbands had married before whereas it was their Asian wives’ first marriage, compared to 7-11% in white/white, Asian/Asian, and Asian husband/white wive couples.
And then here we come to the chart of all charts. You can pick out for yourself which facts you find the most interesting. One that stood out for me, that I have not mentioned yet, is the average earnings of the Asian/white couples. Let me pick out a couple interesting rows:
white husband/Asian wife:
median earning: $48,000
first marriage – 63%
As compared to:
Asian wife/white husband:
median earning: $17,000
first marriage – 75%
So, theoretically, this is the average white husband/Asian wife couple out there. How about that income discrepancy? Is it a good thing that they can rely on their husbands for money, or bad that they are in a financially dependent relationship which is harder to get out of? And of course the age gap of 10+ years (how many plus is it, anyways?)—the high rate of that—is just plain disturbing.
Anyways, thanks for going through this amazing data analysis adventure with me. Later, I will talk more about real people and my personal experiences beyond the numbers. (I welcome anyone who wants to share their stories—you can email me if you wish to keep it private.) And happy Sunday!