Consistent with the findings of previous studies, Asian men are the group least likely to be romantically involved in adolescence.
Turning to Table 2 , we find few unadjusted differences in the likelihood of any current romantic partnering for women of different race and ethnic groups. Asian women are just as likely to be in a romantic partnership as white women. Black women are marginally less likely to be in any relationship than white women 0. However, the Wave I interviewers rated black women least favorably on attractiveness and grooming.
Asian women, like Asian men, are the group with the lowest prevalence of romantic involvement during adolescence.
Note that this pattern is the opposite of what the cultural framework explanation would predict. To better highlight racial and ethnic differences in romantic involvement, and to identify structural or cultural factors that promote and impede involvement, we turn to multivariate analyses. Following previous research on relationship involvement, we estimate separate models for men and women.
We present three sets of models for each to understand whether taking account of structural factors such as economic resources or physical characteristics, or cultural factors such as nativity status or ethnic sub-group may explain the racial and ethnic gaps in romantic involvement found in the bivariate statistics. Table 3 presents the results for men. The zero-order model Model 1 shows the unadjusted racial and ethnic gaps in current relationship involvement. Asian men, but not black or Hispanic men, exhibit significantly lower odds of involvement than white men.
Specifically, they have roughly half the odds of current involvement as white men. The full model Model 2 adds the independent variables. Results suggest that involvement increases with age, but not educational attainment, parental SES or nativity status. All of the variables targeting opportunities for involvement for men i.
We examined the addition of height squared to capture any nonlinearities but it failed to reach statistical significance. Even in the descriptive tabulations, we can see that the higher SES attainment of Asian men do not transform into more favorable outcomes on the mate market — hence our results do not support the structural framework for accounting for the difference between Asian and white males.
To examine whether cultural preferences in immigrant families may account for race and ethnic gaps in partnering, we distinguish Asians and Hispanics by their nativity status.
Model 3 depicts the zero-order while Model 4 represents the full model. Given the small numbers of foreign-born white and black men in the sample, we do not distinguish these groups by nativity. We ran a parallel model in which they were omitted and the results are the same. The results suggest that Asian men regardless of nativity status have substantially lower odds of forming a romantic partnership at Wave IV than do whites. No differences by nativity status were found among Hispanic men. These results do not support the cultural framework model.
To further explore whether perhaps cultural variations may be driving this gap in relationship involvement, we divide Asian and Hispanic men into ethnic sub-groups Models 5 and 6. On the other hand, Filipino men are or no more or less likely to form a romantic partnership than white men. The addition of the full set of independent variables attenuates the association but does not eliminate it.
We also considered another aspect often attributed to culture—whether Asian men may be excluding themselves from forming romantic relationships due to enrollment in higher education. In sum, our results lend little support for a cultural explanation of race and ethnic gaps in partnering. We estimated parallel models for women Table 4. Results from the zero-order model for women Model 1 reveal that black women have significantly lower odds of current involvement than white women. Two of the factors that differentiate the involvement of men also differentiate the involvement of women—interviewer-rated attractiveness and prior romantic relationship.
Height fails to significantly affect the involvement of women. The full model Model 2 reveals that net of resources and characteristics, black women have lower odds of romantic partnering than white women.
Hispanic and Asian women show no difference in their odds of current involvement at Wave IV compared to white women. In contrast to the findings concerning men, no differences in involvement for Asian or Hispanic women were found in models examining nativity status Models 3 and 4 , ethnic sub-group Models 5 and 6 or current educational enrollment not shown. This study reassesses racial and ethnic patterns of current romantic involvement, regardless of co-residential union status. We draw from structural, cultural, and critical race frameworks to develop expectations about racial and ethnic gaps in romantic involvement, paying close attention to the distinctiveness of Asians Americans.
Our descriptive statistics reveal that patterns of involvement differed markedly for men and women. White, black, and Hispanic women generally resembled their male counterparts in their levels of involvement, but Asian women were half as likely as Asian men to be unpartnered i. In zero-order models run separately for men and women, black women and Asian men consistently exhibited a significantly lower likelihood of current involvement than their white counterparts. In full models that included economic factors, physical attributes and prior adolescent romantic relationships, the patterns remained.
Wave I interviewer-rated attractiveness and romantic relationship involvement additionally reduced involvement for men and women, underscoring the importance of experience and opportunity. We found no evidence that socioeconomic resources or physical characteristics were driving the lower levels of involvement among Asian men. Instead, our findings are consistent with the notion that Asian American men are at the bottom of the racial hierarchy when it comes to the different-sex dating market. With our data, we are unable to completely determine the mechanism through which Asian men are excluded from the mate market at this stage of the life course.
While we cannot definitively say that Asian American men have not removed themselves from the mate market, we find little support for that argument.
The significantly lower prevalence of involvement among Asian men, regardless of nativity status and ethnic group, challenges the notion that cultural norms and values may account for race and ethnic patterns in current involvement. Further evidence against the cultural argument is found in the stark differences in the likelihood of being unpartnered between Asian men and women.
In fact, the opposite was true. Finally, if culturally-specific values and norms were driving romantic involvement, these differences would be more apparent among the foreign-born population than among the second and later generations. Some of this gap could be due to the large gender differences in interracial involvement among Asians.
Prior studies reveal, among other things, that Asian women are more likely to form co-residential relationships with someone of a different race than their Asian male counterparts and that black men are more likely than black women to interracially co-reside Qian and Lichter Similarly, in analyses not shown, we find that given a relationship, Asian men in our sample were less likely than Asian women to be in a relationship with a different-race partner i.
However, research by Fong and Yung suggests that both Asian men and women express a similar desire to marry outside of their race. The differences we identified between white and Asian men were consistent with notions of a racial hierarchy in dating preferences, as well as observations by Asian American film scholars and media observers Adachi Media observers continue to note that Hollywood movies and advertisements promote Asian American men as geeky and awkward romantic partners.
Asian American males usually serve as exemplar in their awkwardness around women.
The character Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles , a film by John Hughes, has been widely viewed as the quintessential Asian American geek and is well known to Asian Americans males who were adolescents in the s. Film scholars and Asian American commentators have also lamented the fact that Asian American men rarely play romantic leads in films. Even when Asian American men are present as the lead male usually in martial arts or action films , they rarely have the opportunity to demonstrate any physical displays of affection.
For example in Romeo Must Die , a film based on Romeo and Juliet starring Chinese actor Jet Li and Aaliyah an African American actress , the two leading characters never kiss despite the romantic link between them.
A kiss was tested with a focus group, but they were uncomfortable with it, so in the cinematic release of this film, the two characters again, based on Romeo and Juliet hug instead. The analyses presented in this study are limited in a few respects. First, we do not measure mate availability. While structural frameworks do stress the importance of individual characteristics i. Indeed, prior research finds that higher sex ratios i.
However, prior studies concerning mate availability find that sex ratio imbalances explain only a small part of the marriage gap between black and white women e. In the current study, we are unable to address the influence of sex ratios on racial and ethnic patterns of current involvement because the contextual data corresponds only to the period of interviews. More specifically, the contextual data in the fourth wave include only the number of women and men for the ages 18 to 24, not the full age range that might compose a potential mate pool.
A second limitation concerns our measurement of cultural norms. We do not have measures of parental attitudes toward the formation of romantic partnerships, which might provide us with a more direct measure of family influences on young adult behaviors.
Still, it is unlikely that Asian American parents would be more restrictive with their sons than daughters Dasgupta ; Espirtiu ; Talbani and Hasanali However, we did explore the role of several variables measured at Wave I in mediating the gap between Asian and white men in our preliminary models not shown here. We also included measures of verbal aptitude and grade point average. Finally, we measured attitudes among young adults related to union formation during the third wave e. None of the variables we considered reduced the magnitude of the gap substantially or reduced its level of significance.
As Add Health does not ask respondents about their willingness to form relationships with partners from specific racial groups, we are not able to empirically test the racial hierarchy explanation and suggest that future population-based surveys incorporate these measures. Nonetheless, our results do suggest that a racial hierarchy in romantic partner preferences may hinder Asian men from entering into romantic partnerships during young adulthood. However, these figures include Asian men who dated and married outside of the US — hence, they would not have suffered under the same racial hierarchy as they might have had they dated in the US.
We do not know whether this younger cohort of Asian American men will eventually marry at similarly high rates or whether the patterns of exclusion found in the dating market here will continue to the marriage market. Data from the US Census also includes individuals that married outside of the US, so even if Asian American men are marginalized in the US dating market, that would not affect the odds of marriage among Asians outside of the US.
It is also possible that Asian American men are disadvantaged in the dating market, but eventually marry due to their higher SES attainment. Our study is an important first step into understanding the marginalization of some groups in the dating market, but additional studies are needed that offer a more comprehensive view of romantic involvement ranging from where individuals search for and meet potential partners to how the romantic relationship progresses at this stage of the life course.
Prior studies have suggested that social context shapes the networks from which individuals chose or are chosen as mates Kalmijn and Flap ; Laumann, Gagnon, Michael and Michaels Where individuals meet romantic partners i. Examining factors such as these may help to explain some of the gaps we find in romantic involvement not only for Asian men but for black women.