Is the Asian American sex difference in outmarriage due to adoption of girls from East Asia?

I was revisiting the statistics on intermarriage rates of various Asian American ethnicities on the Asian Nation website drawn from the 2010 census. And something weird jumped out at me: the absolute number of 1.5 and 2nd generation “Asian American” women of some ethnicities is way higher than for others. For Korean Americans, it’s almost a 1:2 ratio of men to women.

So I looked at the inmarriage rate of various ethnicities by for women, and it turns out that there is a ~0.90 correlation between the rate and the ratio. Basically, when there is a huge surplus of women to men of the same ethnicity these women tend to marry men of other ethnicities.

This is not a deep interest of mine, but I do know that the number of girls adopted from many Asian nations tends to exceed the number of boys. Adoptees, in general, are already much more likely to marry out of the racial category that their physical appearance codes, but if there was a massive sex ratio difference that would probably exacerbate the issue.

The main reason I’m posting on this is that there is a huge literature, and lots of talk, about how Asian American men are emasculated, and the issues with regards to interracial dating being unbalanced in this community. I think that that is probably still a valid point, but I’m not sure that the interracial marriage statistics reflect the magnitude of the issue. Rather, perhaps it is just an artifact of adoption patterns and the large representation of adoptees in cohorts for certain ethnicities?

4 thoughts on “Is the Asian American sex difference in outmarriage due to adoption of girls from East Asia?

  1. The inmarriage rates are much lower than I expected. Do you have the corresponding statistics for men?

  2. Nice evidence for that. I think confounds, or not necessarily confounds but factors to consider shaping this,would tend to be that sex ratio should be more equal where you have groups with lots of migration of pre-existing families and couples, or where groups are more comprised of long standing American born (and that means things like the Japanese are probably disproportionately Hawaiian, where population are locally disproportionately Japanese).

    That doesn’t change results, but I guess those factors, particularly former, matter if we’re thinking about how this in context of how individuals from groups would pair up within the USA and the sociological dimensions you discuss, and using the sex-ratio adjusted intermarriage rate as a barometer for that.

    On general interest: For Filipino and Vietnamese, probably not adoption, unless I’m wrong? Just because I don’t have any recollection of this, but maybe it’s a bigger phenomena than I think. But if not is this maids and overseas brides*, mainly for Filipinos, and refugees (boat people?) with female composition bias due to greater numbers of male war dead (and due to disproportionate refugee bias to US soldier liaisons?), mainly for Vietnamese?

    Also to me unusual how no group seems to skew to male ratio, despite what I would expect where Asian migration streams should mostly be selecting for high education individuals and that in Asia schooling biases should mean those are male skewed?

    *Conventionally people say “mail order brides” quite often, but that doesn’t seem like the most polite term, hence my awkward phrasing.

  3. Matt,

    Nursing and other health care professional migration could also lead to Filipino ratios. For example here in Ireland the ‘1st generation’ of Filipino migrants were majority female working in the Nursing profession. Of course there were also male nurses from the Philippines and over time with ‘family reunification’ I imagine the ratio has balanced out somewhat. Unsurprisingly though there’s fair number of Irish/Filipina couples as a result (12 years and counting for myself)


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