Relationship Involvement Among Young Adults: Are Asian American Men an Exceptional Case?

Abstract

Asian American men and women have been largely neglected in previous studies of romantic relationship formation and status. Using data from the first and fourth waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we examine romantic and sexual involvement among young adults, most of whom were between the ages of 25 and 32 (N = 11,555). Drawing from explanations that focus on structural and cultural elements as well as racial hierarchies, we examine the factors that promote and impede involvement in romantic/sexual relationships. We use logistic regression to model current involvement of men and women separately and find, with the exception of Filipino men, Asian men are significantly less likely than white men to be currently involved with a romantic partner, even after controlling for a wide array of characteristics. Our results suggest that the racial hierarchy framework best explains lower likelihood of involvement among Asian American men.

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Acknowledgments

This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for their assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis. Infrastructure support was provided by The Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University that has core funding from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (R24HD050959).

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Correspondence to Kelly Stamper Balistreri.

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Balistreri, K.S., Joyner, K. & Kao, G. Relationship Involvement Among Young Adults: Are Asian American Men an Exceptional Case?. Popul Res Policy Rev 34, 709–732 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11113-015-9361-1

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Keywords

  • Relationship involvement
  • Young adults
  • Race and ethnic differences