When it comes to marriage, race and ethnicity matter less

Intermarriage is on the rise, a report released Thursday shows. 

In 2015, one in six newlyweds had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity – that’s more than five times the number of intermarried couples in 1967, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Pew's Intermarriage in the U.S. 50 Years After Loving v. Virginia shows one in ten married people (not just newlyweds) in 2015 also had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity.

The most common intermarriage pair among newlyweds is Hispanic and white. The second most prevalent pair is white and Asian.

Other data pointed out stark gender differences for blacks and Asians: Black men are twice as likely as black women to intermarry. Asians are the opposite — Asian women are more likely to intermarry than Asian men. 

On the whole, more educated individuals are more likely to intermarry. 

Michael Rosenfeld, professor in Stanford University’s Department of Sociology, said he expects intermarriage numbers to continue to rise partly because people are living independently away from Mom and Dad, and marrying later in life.

“Parents have less influence over who their adult children marry now than they did 50 years ago,” Rosenfeld said. “That means that the barriers to racial intermarriage have come down.”

Gretchen Livingston, senior researcher, said Pew data did point to changing attitudes about race and ethnicity.

“We did have attitudinal data and what we see is even in 2000 and 1990, huge changes in attitudes about marring across race and ethnic lines.”

While Rosenfeld said the trend is an indication that “in family life, racial differences matter less than they used to,” an increase in intermarriage doesn’t mean it will become the norm.

“Even with increase in intermarriage, race is still the strongest division in the marriage market,” Rosenfeld said.

In a separate study, researchers from Vanderbilt University looked at 1,203 diverse dating profiles on the U.S. version of Match.com, to find out more about race preferences. The results of the study, published online last year, showed 91% of non-white daters preferred to date a white person.

“Although the increasing numbers of biracial people seemingly suggest that the United States is becoming a more racially and ethnically diverse nation, by investigating the dating preferences of biracial individuals, we are able to assess whether racial/ethnic boundaries are truly blurring,” lead author Allison R. McGrath said in a release.

A study published last July by researchers at the University of Washington suggests even though people appear accepting of interracial marriages, they are actually “disgusted” by the unions.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, looked at a small group of University of Nebraska students (ranging from 19 in one experiment to more than 200 in another). While the findings might not represent feelings of the entire nation, Allison Skinner, lead author, told The Washington Post it’s “probably not exclusively a Nebraska thing.”

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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