Item from the Smart Marriages Archive, reproduced in the Divorce Statistics Collection

Asian families stay together

Scripps Howard News Service

WASHINGTON -- The "Ozzie and Harriet" style family is not dead in
America, but is now often found in those with names such as Wu
or Lee.

More than eight out of 10 Asian-American children in the United States
live with both parents, a rate of two-parent families significantly
higher than for any other racial or ethnic group, according to a new
Census Bureau study.

"This is just a tradition. Divorce is something quite new to the Asian
countries, really only in the last 50 years," said Juju Lien, executive
director of the Asian-American Institute in Chicago.

The Census Bureau reported Wednesday that 84 percent of all
Asian-American children in 1997 were living with both parents,
significantly above the national average.

Seventy-seven percent of non-Hispanic white children live in two-parent
homes, the second highest rate for any major ethnic or racial
group.

"We are more group- and family-oriented, perhaps not so individualistic,"
said Yoko Baba, associate professor of sociology at San Jose
State University. "Asians expect the parents to stay together. That may
come from the Buddhist religion and other traditions in which the
children are taught to respect their parents and ancestors."

The Census report estimated that Asians and Pacific Islanders numbered
10.1 million last year, representing 4 percent of the total U.S.
population. It is the nation's fastest growing racial group.

The study found that 78.5 percent of the 2.2 million Asian families are
headed by married couples, more than the 76.3 percent for
non-Hispanic whites or any other major group.

"Socially, Asian immigrants have focused on the survival issues of trying
to establish themselves and to build a family," Lien said.

"They don't have nightclubs or other social alternatives in which they
can run into affair-type situations. The family is central."

Asian-Americans also enjoy the highest educational and economic levels of
any major ethnic group.

About 80 percent have graduated from high school and 40 percent have
earned a bachelor's degree.

Asian-American families had a median income of $49,105 in 1996, well
above the national average of $42,300.

All of these factors help bring stability to Asian family structure, Lien
and Baba said.



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