One of the most popular and controversial articles on my Asian-Nation.org site is the one on Interracial Dating and Marriage. This is a topic that has provoked much discussion and debate among Asian Americans through the years and continues to do so today. Within the larger range of opinions on interracial dating and marriage, many Asian Americans and non-Asians alike consider dating and marrying someone outside of your racial/ethnic group as a natural progression of Asian Americans becoming more integrated into the mainstream, while others see it as renouncing one’s Asian identity.

As the saying goes, you are entitled to your opinion, but not your facts. In that context, as a sociologist, I try to make an empirically-sound and objective contribution to this debate by presenting updated data and statistics from the 2010 U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS) on the racial/ethnic marriage patterns of Asian Americans for both men and women and the six largest Asian ethnic groups. The full tables are presented in my Interracial Dating and Marriage page, but below is a summary of recent trends and changes from 2006, the last time I updated these statistics:

© Trinette Reed/Corbis
  • Consistently, rates of marriages involving Asian Americans and Whites have declined. Specifically, among those marriages in which both spouses are U.S.-raised (either born in the U.S. or immigrated before age 13, and thereby socialized within the U.S. racial/ethnic landscape), for five of the six Asian American ethnic groups, the rates of having a White spouse for both men and women declined from 2006 to 2010. Among men/husbands, the largest decline involved Asian Indians and Koreans. For women/wives, the largest decline was for Filipinos and Koreans.
  • The only exceptions to this trend of declining rates of White-Asian marriages were for Asian Indian women/wives (whose rate slightly increased from 2006 to 2010) and for both Vietnamese men/husbands and women/wives. For Vietnamese men, their rates of having a White wife increased from 15.0% to 21.9% while for Vietnamese women, their rate for having a White husband jumped from 28.3% to 41.3%.
  • Strangely, the population sizes for U.S.-raised married Vietnamese American men and women declined from 2006 to 2010. For example, in 2006, there were about 40,500 and 45,200 U.S.-raised Vietnamese men and women respectively who were married. In 2010, those numbers declined to 26,795 and 34,998. Some possible explanations are that many who were married in 2006 got divorced, U.S.-raised Vietnamese men and women are delaying getting married, and/or many U.S.-raised Vietnamese have changed their ethnic identity to some other ethnic group, such as Chinese or Hmong.
  • In contrast to the declining rates of Asian-White marriages, the rates for Pan-Asian/Other Asian marriages have increased notably from 2006 to 2010 (having a spouse of a different Asian ethnicity). This increase was almost universal across all the six ethnic groups and for both genders (the only exception was for Filipino women). Among U.S.-raised men/husbands, Vietnamese Americans experienced the biggest increases in having a pan-Asian spouse — from 5.8% in 2006 to 13.7% in 2010 for men and from 7.8% to 12.2% for women/wives.

This article originally published at Asian-Nation.org and is copyrighted © 2013 

If you’ve read more than a few articles on Asian-Nation, you already know that I rely a lot on Census data and statistics for this website and blog. In addition, as an academic, I also use Census data heavily for my own research studies, as do thousands of other sociologists, demographers, statisticians, analysts, and others in all kinds of disciplines and fields.

It’s with this in mind that many of us are eagerly anticipating the 2010 Census. After the questionnaires and data collection start this spring, the actual data won’t be completely tabulated and released to the public until 2013 or so. Nonetheless, as a recent Time magazine article describes, diverse racial and ethnic groups around the country understand how important it is that the federal government has an accurate count of their population numbers and the overall importance of these Census data to American society in general:

The U.S. Census is gearing up for its once-a-decade tally of America’s population. And so are thousands of groups with a vested interest in being fully counted — since the Census determines not just seats in the House of Representatives but also how some $400 billion in annual federal funding gets divvied up, the way companies think about where to build factories and stores, and the shape of political and social discourse about issues like race, ethnicity and urban vs. rural America. . . .

Brazilians in Boston are creating public-service announcements to run on Portuguese-language radio stations. The state of California is handing out maps of neighborhoods with low participation rates in the last Census so community groups can target where to knock on doors. . . . “The Census,” says Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, “is all about financial resources and power.” . . .

To think about what’s at stake — beyond $3 billion in unemployment funds, $4 billion worth of rural-electrification loans, $6 billion in Head Start money and hundreds of billions of other federal dollars — consider the Burmese. Some 17,000 people living in the U.S. identified themselves as Burmese in the 2000 Census, but “we know that’s not the right number,” says Aung Naing, chairman of the Burmese Complete Count Committee. . .

In Southern California alone, there are seven or eight Burmese Buddhist temples, he says. So since the fall, Naing has been traveling the country, explaining to Burmese groups that the Census counts everybody — citizen or not — and that the data collected aren’t shared with other parts of the government, like immigration or taxing authorities (common fears that drive down response rates among many minority groups, including blacks and Hispanics).

The Time article acknowledges that there have been instances in the past where Census data has been used against particular racial/ethnic groups, such as during World War II when they were used to identify neighborhoods that had large Japanese American populations, so that they could more easily be rounded up and placed in prison camps.

There are also many Americans who don’t trust the federal government in general and will refuse to complete a Census form based solely on those grounds. As I’ve also written about, the Census Bureau has also experienced more than a few bureaucratic glitches that it will hopefully resolve under the guidance of its new boss, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

For people and community organizations interested in learning more about the Census’s importance to Americans of all backgrounds, or in helping to promote participation in their own community, there are some excellent resources at CivilRights.org and NonProfitsCount.org. The Census Bureau also has numerous informational material translated in dozens of languages for downloading. As with the Time magazine article, these resources emphasize that an accurate count of the U.S.’s population forms the basis for many important but often overlooked political, economic, and social decisions that are made that end up affecting our daily lives.

As it relates to Asian Americans, the Asian American Justice Center has a nice summary of the Census’s importance to APAs. Also, the Census Bureau has produced some short videos introducing and promoting the 2010 Census, with the embedded clip below aimed specifically at Asian Americans (the clips are a little elementary but are a good way to start the discussion):

Also, my good friend and colleague Larry Shinagawa is Director of the Asian Pacific American Census Information Center (APACIC), based out of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland. As noted on their website:

[The APACIC] was established to serve the census data needs of the national, regional, and local Washington metropolitan area Asian Pacific American communities. In September 2006, APACIC was designated as a Census Information Center (CIC) by the U.S. Census Bureau. As a member of the U.S. CIC Program, APACIC serves underserved and disadvantaged Asian Pacific American communities especially in the mid-Atlantic region by providing access to U.S. Census Bureau products.

The APACIC page linked to above also contains numerous resources and reports on various Asian American ethnic groups and other aspects of the Asian American population for those who are interested. I hope all Americans, and particularly Asian Americans, will complete and return the Census questionnaire that they’ll receive soon so that we have as accurate as possible a picture of our society and population.

February is Black/African American History Month and the Census Bureau has again provided us with an historical summary and a few noteworthy statistics for this occasion:

To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U. S. presidents proclaim February as National African-American History Month.

40.7 million
As of July 1, 2007, the estimated population of black residents in the United States, including those of more than one race. They made up 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population.

65.7 million
The projected black population of the United States (including those of more than one race) for July 1, 2050. On that date, according to the projection, blacks would constitute 15 percent of the nation’s total population.

38%
Percentage of Mississippi’s population that is black, highest of any state. Blacks also make up more than a quarter of the population in Louisiana (32%), Georgia (31%), Maryland (30%), South Carolina (29%) and Alabama (27%). They comprise 56% of the population in the District of Columbia.

2.4 million
Number of single-race black military veterans in the United States in 2007. More military veterans are black than any other minority group.

19%
Percentage of single-race blacks 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2007.

1.2 million
Among single-race blacks 25 and older, the number who had an advanced degree in 2007 (e.g., master’s, doctorate, medical or law). In 1997, 717,000 blacks had this level of education.

$88.6 billion
Revenues for black-owned businesses in 2002. The number of black-owned businesses totaled nearly 1.2 million in 2002. Black-owned firms accounted for 5 percent of all non-farm businesses in the United States.

$33,916
The annual median income of single-race black households in 2007, up from $32,876 (in 2007 constant dollars) in 2006.

24.5%
Poverty rate in 2007 for single-race blacks, statistically unchanged from 2006.

64.5%
Percentage of families among households with a single-race black householder. There were 8.5 million black family households.

46%
Nationally, the percentage of households with a householder who is single-race black who lived in owner-occupied homes. The rate was higher in certain states, such as Mississippi, where it reached 59%.

27%
The percentage of single-race blacks 16 and older who work in management, professional and related occupations. There are 49,730 black physicians and surgeons, 70,620 postsecondary teachers, 49,050 lawyers, and 57,720 chief executives.

With all of the recent buzz and excitement surrounding the Presidential election and Obama’s victory, I haven’t had the chance to post this until now:

November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and the Census Bureau has again provided us with an historical summary and a few noteworthy statistics for this occasion:

The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode horseback from state to state, getting endorsements from 24 state governments, to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”

4.5 million
As of July 1, 2007, the estimated population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race. They made up 1.5% of the total population.

30.3
Median age of the single-race American Indian and Alaska Native population in 2007, younger than the median of 36.6 for the population as a whole. About 27% of American Indians and Alaska Natives were younger than 18, and 8% were 65 and older.

5
Number of states where American Indians and Alaska Natives were the largest race or ethnic minority group in 2007. These states are Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

18%
The proportion of Alaska’s population identified as American Indian and Alaska Native as of July 1, 2007, the highest rate for this race group of any state. Alaska was followed by Oklahoma (11%) and New Mexico (10%).

76%
The percentage of American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma. Also, 13% had at least a bachelor’s degree.

25%
The percentage of civilian-employed American Indian and Alaska Native people 16 and older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. In addition, 23 percent worked in sales and office occupations and about the same percentage worked in service occupations.

$35,343
The 2007 median income of households where the householder reported being American Indian and Alaska Native and no other race.

25.3%
The 2007 poverty rate of people who reported they were American Indian and Alaska Native and no other race.

Most of the news these days is on the economy — the recent financial institution crisis and how it will affect the presidential elections and American society going forward. But as an example of interconnections between social issues, as CBS News reports, the number of immigrants coming into the U.S. (both legal and unauthorized), significantly declined in the past year, with the economy being a big reason:

The wave of immigrants entering the United States slowed dramatically last year as the economy faltered and the government stepped up enforcement of immigration laws. The nation added about a half million immigrants in 2007, down from more than 1.8 million the year before. . . .

The Census Bureau’s’ estimates for immigrants include those in the country legally and illegally because the agency does not ask about legal status. . . .

One other obstacle could be the 69 percent increase last summer in citizenship fees, about 281,000 immigrants applied to become U.S. citizens in the first half of 2008 – less than half the number of applicants in the same period last year. . . .

Much of the nation experienced a housing boom in the first half of the decade, providing jobs that attracted immigrants. The housing bubble burst last year, sending housing markets tumbling and contributing to a slumping economy that some economists believe is in recession.

It should not come as a surprise that with the economy slumping that there are fewer economic opportunities for immigrants (both legal and unauthorized), so that the numbers of immigrants entering the U.S. has declined significantly in the past year.

Of course, the political controversy over unauthorized immigration and high-profile efforts to round up and deport undocumented workers have also contributed to a less-hospitable climate in general. Critics of unauthorized immigration are undoubtedly rejoicing at these numbers, but as sociologists have tried to point out, these issue exist in a larger context of institutional and historical factors that require a longer-range focus if we want true and fair immigration reform.

To go along with the Census’s latest report, the Congressional Budget Office has put together a list of Congressional reports and publications relating to immigration, both legal and unauthorized.

Of particular interest is their report released in December 2007 on “The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments.” For those who are too impatient to read the whole report, it basically confirms what previous research has suggested:

  • State and local governments incur costs for providing services to unauthorized immigrants and have limited options for avoiding or minimizing those costs.
  • The amount that state and local governments spend on services for unauthorized immigrants represents a small percentage of the total amount spent by those governments to provide such services to residents in their jurisdictions.
  • The tax revenues that unauthorized immigrants generate for state and local governments do not offset the total cost of services provided to those immigrants.
  • Federal aid programs offer resources to state and local governments that provide services to unauthorized immigrants, but those funds do not fully cover the costs incurred by those governments.

So in other words, on a national level, unauthorized immigration constitutes a slight positive benefit for the American economy but on the state and local governments have to bear a disproportionate share of the financial costs, so at the state and local levels, unauthorized immigration constitutes a slight net loss on their budgets.

That is also a big reason why opposition to unauthorized immigration is so vehement — people situate themselves at the local setting, within their own city, town, or neighborhood — not at the national level. So they mainly see what is immediately around them, rather than taking a national-level perspective.

In that sense, it’s easy to see why people are opposed to the costs of unauthorized immigration that their city or state must bear, rather than recognizing the net benefit at the national level.

As sociologists have also pointed out, part of the solution needs to include the federal government sharing more of those net benefits with the state and local levels, to offset the disproportionate burden of costs that states and cities have to bear. Unfortunately, in today’s financial climate, that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.