Do race and ethnicity matter when it comes to marriage?
Apparently, race is mattering less these days, say researchers at the Pew Research Center, who report that nearly one out of seven new marriages in the U.S. is interracial or interethnic. The report, which interviewed couples married for less than a year, found racial lines are blurring as more people choose to marry outside their race.
"From what we can tell, this is the highest [percentage of interracial marriage] it has ever been," said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer for the Pew Research Center.
He said interracial marriages have soared since the 1980s. About 6.8 percent of newly married couples reported marrying outside their race or ethnicity in 1980. That figure jumped to about 14.6 percent in the Pew report released this week, which surveyed newlyweds in 2008.
However, studies show that support for interracial marriages is stronger than in the past, especially among the Millennial generation. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, about 85 percent accept interracial marriages, according to a Pew study published in February. Scholars say interracial marriages are important to examine because they can be a barometer for race relations and cultural assimilation.
The Pew Center study found that marrying outside of one's race or ethnicity is most common among Asians and Hispanics, two immigrant groups that have grown tremendously. About 30 percent of Asian newlyweds in the study married outside of their race, and about a quarter of Hispanic newlyweds reported marrying someone of another race.
The African-American population also saw increases in interracial marriage, with the number of blacks participating in such marriages roughly tripling since 1980, the study said. About 16 percent of African-Americans overall are in an interracial marriage, but researchers point out a gender difference: It's more common for black men to marry outside of their race than for black women.
The gender difference was the reverse in the Asian population surveyed. Twice as many newlywed Asian women, about 40 percent, were married outside their race, compared with Asian men, at about 20 percent.
"We are seeing an increasingly multiracial and multiethnic country," said Andrew Cherlin, professor of public policy and sociology at Johns Hopkins University. "The change in our population is bringing more people into contact with others who aren't like them."
The Pew Center also found education and residency affected whether people married interracially, with college-educated adults being more likely to do so. More people who live in the West marry outside their race than do people in the Midwest and South, the survey found.
Tune in to tonight's show. Topic...Dating 103 - Interracial Dating and other dating issues of 2010. Co-hosted by MzInspiredMind
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