Multiracial Children’s Perceptions of Their Parents’ Marriages

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Prior research on interracial marriages from U.S. Census Data has examined the rates of interracial marriage over the years. Moreover, previous research on multiracial children has focused on the formation of multiracial identity. Little to no prior research has examined interracial marriages using the children as the units of analysis. This study thus aims to fill the gap in research on multiracial children and interracial marriages by analyzing multiracial children’s perceptions of the power dynamics of their parents’ interracial marriages in light of the key variables “socioeconomic status,” “nativity status,” and “gender ideology.” “Socioeconomic status” refers to an individual’s or a family’s social position in society as determined by factors such as income, education, and occupation. “Nativity status” refers to whether an individual is native born—that is, born in the United States for the purposes of this study—or foreign born (an immigrant). “Gender ideology” refers to the three types of marriages that Arlie Hochschild discusses in The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home: traditional, transitional, or egalitarian. I hypothesized that interracial marriages, particularly between immigrant women and white men, would be more traditional in nature when considering in the key variables “socioeconomic status,” “nativity status,” and “gender ideology” given the racial hierarchy evident in the United States, which positions white men at the top. In this study, 86 multiracial people ages 18 and older completed an online survey administered using a student email database belonging to a small, private liberal arts college in Southern California as well as a personal Facebook account belonging to the researcher. Additionally, two multiracial college students ages 18 and older agreed to be interviewed after completing the survey. The findings relative to socioeconomic status—specifically those pertaining to parent education levels—suggest that 67.4 percent of mothers had at least obtained their Associate’s degree or higher or had some form of trade/technical/vocational training compared to 68.6 percent of fathers. In terms of nativity status, a higher percentage of mothers were reported as being immigrants (26.7 percent) than fathers (22.1 percent). Lastly, even though 75.3 percent of respondents reported that they came from two-income households, a significantly higher percentage of respondents reported that their fathers worked while their mothers were stay-at-home moms (16.5 percent) compared to the 3.5 percent of respondents that reported the opposite. The interview findings confirm these quantitative findings. Overall, the findings suggest that contemporary interracial marriages are more transitional or egalitarian in nature. Previous literature on interracial marriages has indicated that they are more traditional in nature, especially in those that combine Western and Asian cultures. Therefore, my findings represent an overall shift in the nature of contemporary interracial marriages from traditional to transitional or egalitarian.


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