Bloggers like me have been discussing interracial marriage for years now. What happens inside the relationships, and we attempt to explain why. One trend that we’ve all observed has now been expressed in hard numbers by the Pew Research Center, a respected think tank. Several weeks ago the group published a study that found the rate of interracial marriage had spiked in the United States in 2008. In that year, 14.6% of new marriages were between members of different races or ethnic groups—double the rate in 1980, and more than six times the rate in 1960. You can see the executive summary here, as well as download a copy of the PDF.
Pew also zeroed in one something we’ve been saying for years, that for whatever reason, black women are far less likely to date outside their race than black men, and that Asians don’t have the same hang-ups and peeves that we seem to have about interracial dating.
• Gender patterns in intermarriage vary widely. Some 22% of all black male newlyweds in 2008 married outside their race, compared with just 9% of black female newlyweds. Among Asians, the gender pattern runs the other way. Some 40% of Asian female newlyweds married outside their race in 2008, compared with just 20% of Asian male newlyweds. Among whites and Hispanics, by contrast, there are no gender differences in intermarriage rates.
I read this part to Hubby, and joked that we were real freaks. There are very low rates of intermarriage among black women and white men. How in the world did we pull it off? He just chuckled and quickly dove back into serious paying work. So I went back to reading, quietly, some of its other interesting findings:
• Among all newlyweds in 2008, 9% of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 31% of Asians married someone whose race or ethnicity was different from their own.
• There is a strong regional pattern to intermarriage. Among all new marriages in 2008, 22% in the West were interracial or interethnic, compared with 13% in both the South and Northeast and 11% in the Midwest.
• Most Americans say they approve of racial or ethnic intermarriage — not just in the abstract, but also in their own families. More than six-in-ten say it “would be fine” with them if a family member told them they were going to marry someone from any of three major race/ethnic groups other than their own.
• More than a third of adults (35%) say they have a family member who is married to someone of a different race. Blacks say this at higher rates than do whites; younger adults at higher rates than older adults; and Westerners at higher rates than people living in other regions of the country.
I hope the study suggests this country is becoming more comfortable talking about and dealing with race, and that we can all maintain our racial and cultural richness, while treating each other with respect. Feel free to talk about what you think the study means; I’d like to hear what you think. Please, just be respectful. This is a family program!