YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

About Women

Asian 'Outmarriages' Is Subject of Study

August 18, 1985|JANICE MALL

Marriages between people of Asian descent and other races appear to be on the rise in Los Angeles, and women tend to marry outside their race at a higher rate than men, according to a new study of marriage patterns conducted by Harry H. L. Kitano, a specialist in race relations and professor at UCLA's School of Social Welfare and sociology department.

Kitano studied marriage because he sees it as one of the most critical indicators of intergroup relations. Also, he said, he has found it is the aspect of race relations that interests people most when he gives talks around the country on the subject.

Kitano and his team went through every marriage license application filed in Los Angeles County for the years 1977-79. As the county does not record race or ethnicity, surnames, birthplace and surnames of parents were used to determine the race of applicants. With this method, the study does not cover marriages between blacks and whites or reveal whether Asians had chosen black or white marriage partners.

Japanese Have Highest Rate

Kitano found that in Los Angeles, Japanese people have the highest rate of "outmarriage"--60.6%. Chinese marry non-Chinese at a rate of 41.2% and Koreans wed outside their ethnic group at a rate of 27.6%. Korean women married non-Koreans at a higher rate than Japanese or Chinese women, but all women married outside their ethnic group at a higher rate than men. In 1979, for example, 43.7% of Chinese men "outmarried" compared to 52.7% of Chinese women. Japanese women married non-Orientals at a rate of 52.7%, men at 47.3%. A large number, 79.6% of Korean women chose husbands of other races, but only 20.4% of Korean men.

The high rate of interracial marriage here is interesting, Kitano said, in view of California's history of outlawing such marriages. The state's law forbidding marriages between whites and people of other races went on the books in 1850 and was not rescinded until 1948. (Such laws were voided in all states in 1967 by the Supreme Court.) "Young people today are almost in disbelief when I tell them that it was once illegal for the races to intermarry," he said in a UCLA report on his research. "They just can't understand how this could have been against the law." Older people, he said, do tend to prefer that their sons and daughters marry within their group.

Kitano's research was funded by the UCLA Institute of American Studies and he has applied for more money to bring the statistics up to date. In another 10 years or so, he said, it may not be possible to study this issue, at least not with the method he has used, as interracial marriage is so widespread that surnames will no longer reflect people's ethnic identity.

What do women worry most about? New Woman magazine surveyed psychiatrists, and came up with a list of the most often reported problems, most of which seem quite different from the things men worry about. The top worries were: not being interested in sex; being too successful; secretly wanting a man to take care of her, and "shouldism"--feeling guilty if she doesn't do things she thinks she should do.

Other frequent worries: fears and doubts about abilities, even among successful women; saying no, and learning to put herself first. Many working women still feel they must be as nurturing as before. Figuring out what they like after years of deferring to a man was reported as a frequent worry for divorced women.

Social workers are well qualified to empathize with their clients--like the people they help, many of them have experienced poverty. Madeleine R. Stoner, an assistant professor and associate dean of the USC School of Social Work, is trying to establish a scholarship fund to aid the needy mid-life women who are enrolled in the university's Master of Social Work Program.

Stoner surveyed mid-life female students--a high percentage of social workers are women--in 29 social work master's degree programs across the country and found that more than half of the women enrolled in the programs were officially poor as determined by the federal poverty index. A quarter of the female students between the ages of 31 and 50 had family incomes below $5,000, half the income set as poverty level for a family of four. Almost all of these women were divorced, separated or widowed and have dependent children, Stoner said.

This finding suggests that social work schools have a new obligation to this population of students, Stoner said. "Not only must schools train students to help future clients afflicted by the feminization of poverty, they must also work to meet the needs of mid-life female students who are struggling to become self-reliant by becoming social workers."

Stoner is working to expand a $10,000 seed grant from Wallis Annenberg into a fully endowed scholarship fund.

Los Angeles Times Articles