Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. The influx of immigrants has increased diversity among ethnic minorities and indicates that they may take multiple integration paths in American society. research on ethnic integration often focuses on panethnic differences and few have explored ethnic diversity within a racial or panethnic context. Using U. Ethnic endogamy is strong and, to a less extent, so is panethnic endogamy.
Yet, marital or cohabiting unions with whites remain an important path of integration but differ ificantly by ethnicity, nativity, age at arrival, and educational attainment. Meanwhile, ethnic differences in marriage and cohabitation with other racial or ethnic minorities are strong. Our analysis supports that unions with whites remain a major path of integration, but other paths of integration also become viable options for all ethnic groups.
Social scientists use intermarriage patterns as a key indicator of the social distance among groups. Gordon Immigrants today originate from diverse countries of origin, languages, religions, and cultures. They are entering a society that may define them as members of racial minorities or as members of unfamiliar panethnic groups Okamoto Continued migration from Asia and Latin America refills marriage markets in a way that could not continue under more restrictive legislative environments in the mid-twentieth century.
Thus, more recent revisions to the assimilation theory acknowledge other potential paths to incorporation in a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society Alba and Nee ; Portes and Zhou ; Rosenfeld Today, the boundaries between European ethnic groups have blurred so that they are no longer as salient in the marriage market as they once were. This is not to say that such intermarriages occurred at a similar rate across all of these groups but rather points to one potential long-term outcome.
Perhaps because they have used the example from past waves of immigration, studies of immigrant intermarriage are often focused on the prevalence of unions with whites versus unions within national origin groups.
But there are other pathways to intermarriage. Option one would suggest that little boundary shifting is occurring as later-generation group members seek partners within the same national-origin group Massey Option two speaks to shifts in boundaries perhaps reflecting a growing salience of panethnic groups for both natives and immigrants Okamoto In this paper, we use census data to examine mate selection patterns among Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Filipinos, and Chinese, the four largest ethnic groups in the United States that originated from Asia and Latin America.
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Most research on intermarriage is based on panethnic definitions, thus, ignoring potential ethnic differences Qian ; Qian and Lichter Some have compared intermarriage across Hispanic and Asian ethnic groups Rosenfeldwhile others have explored intergenerational and interracial marriage specifically within a given panethnic group Okamoto Here we address nativity, age at arrival, and ethnic differences from the point of view of four specific ethnic groups.
These groups represent diverse phenotypic, religious, and linguistic origins.
Thus, our analyses examine the extent to which these groups are associated with union formation with non-Hispanic whites, with members of the same panethnic group, or with other U. We take particular note of the importance of education and age at arrival in the United States as important factors that could influence these patterns. This process involves several stages of assimilation.
One of them is structural assimilation. Marital assimilation would then follow structural assimilation. This theory appears to explain well the experiences of the twentieth century European immigrants. Portes and Zhou argue that immigrant and ethnic minorities are unlikely to follow one single path of assimilation in part because they are at risk of having different structural assimilation outcomes.
Alba and Nee note the greater likelihood of intermarriage with whites for Asian immigrants and their offspring than for Latino or Afro-Caribbean immigrants. Thus, the extent to which a single model of assimilation can be extended to racial minorities today is unclear Omi and Winant Perhaps the most obvious choice would be intergenerational unions — unions between immigrants and immigrant offspring from the same national origins Min and Kim As immigration flows from the same countries continue over time, marriage markets may consist of those of varying generations.
Immigrants may seek marriages with natives, in part because they would become eligible for naturalization more quickly and have greater access to social networks and resources in the United States Bean and Stevens Their native-born counterparts may be attracted to such marriages as well because racial boundaries remain rigid in marriage markets and the pool of native-born marriageable partners of the same ethnicity is limited. Immigrants living in neighborhoods where their co-ethnics reside are likely to attract their native-born co-ethnics as marriageable partners Massey Residential proximity, along with cultural, linguistic, and physical similarities, increases contact opportunities and makes it highly likely that immigrants marry their native-born counterparts Okamoto The potential partners living in ethnic neighborhoods tend to have less education compared to their co-ethnic counterparts living elsewhere.
In this case, ethnic identities are reinforced across generations. A second possible route to union formation for immigrants may reflect the growing importance of panethnic groups in the United States.
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While an increasing of immigrants could encourage ethnic endogamy, it may also fuel the marriage market across ethnic groups but within broader groupings. Recent studies have shown a growing awareness of panethnic identities in recent decades and presented another path of assimilation involving amalgamation into pan-Asian American or pan-Hispanic communities Perez and Hirschman ; Qian, Blair, and Ruf ; Rodriguez Interethnic marriage among Asian and Hispanic ethnic groups has become relatively common Espiritu ; Rosenfeld The growing panethnic identity is facilitated by the common experience of prejudice and discrimination and being identified in the same panethnic group Espiritu But there may be differences in the likelihood that groups adapt by marrying in a panethnic group.
Min and Kim suggest little evidence of a pan-Asian identity because Asians of all ethnic origins are more likely to marry whites than Asians outside their own ethnic group. Okamoto notes that interethnic marriage among Asian groups is facilitated by residential proximity and educational or income equality and that groups are not equally likely to marry outside of the ethnic group.
Hispanics are likely to have opposite patterns Gilbertson, Fitzpatrick, and Yang The salience of race in American society encourages U. Nearly half of Hispanics failed to identify with a single race when faced with the Census question in Perez and Hirschman Those who identify as white tend to have non-Hispanic white spouses. Foreign-born Hispanics, on the other hand, are more likely than native-born Hispanics to marry other Hispanics within the panethnic group Qian and Cobas A third alternative among immigrants may be marriage with other racial minorities other than those of the same panethnic group.
Growing up in America, later generation minorities are more exposed to mainstream cultures and become integrated into the social and cultural patterns of their peers. This may happen because they share city neighborhoods with other racial minorities. For example, Puerto Rican nonwhites may follow the color line and marry African Americans more often than Puerto Rican whites.
Clearly we need to be cognizant of the individual background traits that may also alter assimilation patterns. First, not all immigrants arrive in the United States as adults.
For those arriving as children, union formation patterns may be most similar to their U. Children who arrive during early childhood before formal schooling begins often termed the 1. Those who arrive as teenagers, on the other hand, not only have less experience in the United States, but also have had more exposure to the family formation norms of the origin country. For them, endogamy with co-ethnic immigrants is expected to be stronger. In addition, we consider the role of educational background. Men and women, especially those with college education, are increasingly likely to marry each other with same levels of educational attainment Schwartz and Mare We expect that immigrants with higher levels of education will differ from their less educated counterparts just as such differences are observed within the U.
Most studies of interracial relationships, particularly in the case of immigrants, have focused on marriage.
Theory and background
But cohabitation has become a common living arrangement, which can no longer be ignored in studies of union formation. Although often a short-lived living arrangement, cohabitation has contributed to the decline of marriage Bumpass, Sweet, and Cherlin Compared with marriage, it involves different motivations, commitment, and interaction styles among partners and family members Bumpass and Lu ; Clarkberg, Stolzenberg, and Waite ; Smock Couples in interracial or interethnic relationships may prefer cohabitation in order to avoid potential family complications associated with formalizing such a relationship.
Indeed, recent studies suggest that interracial relationships are more pronounced among cohabiting than married couples Blackwell and Lichter ; Lichter and Qian Immigrant groups vary ificantly in cohabitation prevalence Brown, Van Hook, and Glick However, few such studies have incorporated ethnic groups and nativity. In order to understand the extent to which immigrants and their native co-ethnic counterparts form unions within or across ethnic, panethnic, or racial lines, it is important to examine both cohabiting and marital unions.
Because of shared traditional and cultural backgrounds, immigrants in co-ethnic relationships may be less likely to cohabit than those in relationships with whites or with non-co-ethnic partners.
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We have discussed several paths of integration and assimilation. Clearly, it is too general to discuss these paths by focusing on all immigrants or on Asians and Hispanics at the pan-ethnic level. For our analyses, we choose four ethnic groups with diverse experiences in the United States. Each group represents different modes of entry, histories of contact with Americans of various racial groups, and geographic clustering in the United States.
Crossing boundaries: nativity, ethnicity, and mate selection
Here we briefly review the migration histories and marriage patterns in the United States of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Chinese, and Filipinos. The Puerto Rican case is an interesting contribution to the literature on immigrant adaptation in the United States. Because they are not foreign citizens, Puerto Ricans face fewer barriers to entrance and departure to the mainland and should have greater access to the marriage market in both the sending and receiving communities than other immigrant groups.
Qian and Cobas compare the intermarriage patterns of Hispanic groups and conclude that the racial barrier is quite strong such that marriage beyond the ethnic group follows racial lines.