Black Experience

Interracial Marriage Becoming the Norm in U.S.: Report

Interracial marriage is on the rise, making more than a fivefold increase since 1967, when only 3 percent of newlyweds were intermarried, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday. However, interracial marriage is more accepted by Democrats than Republicans, and Black men and Asian women are more likely to marry someone of a different race.

In 2015, 17 percent of all newlyweds in the country had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity — the growth coinciding “with shifting societal norms as Americans have become accepting of marriages involving spouses of different races and ethnicities, even within their own families,” according to the report.

The 17 percent represents one-in-six newlyweds, while, more broadly, among all married people in 2015,  one-in-10, about 11 million, were intermarried, according to Pew.

Asians were most likely to intermarry, with 29 percent of newlywed Asians married to someone of a different race or ethnicity, followed by Hispanics at 27 percent, Blacks at 18 percent and whites at 11 percent, according to the authors .

When looking at the data of Black newlyweds in the U.S., researchers found that intermarriage is twice as common for Black men as it is for Black women.

“While about one-fourth of recently married Black men (24 percent) have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, this share is 12 percent among recently married Black women,” according to the analysis.

And the difference between Black men and women regarding intermarriage also increases with education.

“For those with a high school diploma or less, 17 percent of men vs. 10 percent of women are intermarried, while among those with a bachelor’s degree, Black men are more than twice as likely as Black women to intermarry (30 percent vs. 13 percent),” state researchers.

A report on social mobility by The Brookings Institution takes a look at the decline of marriage in the U.S., focusing on Black college-educated women.

In 2015, The Brookings Institution published a Social Mobility Memo called “Single Black female BA seeks educated husband: Race, assortative mating and inequality.”

It indicated that a large percentage of Black women with college degrees remain unmarried because they seek to only wed a Black, college-educated man.

The study found that married Black women who are college graduates are much more likely to have a husband with a lower level of education (58 percent), compared to whites of a similar background (48 percent).

The authors also noted that the racial gaps in our society offer the “greatest equity challenges of the 21st Century,” more so than the marriage gaps.

Inequality toward Black men in America has contributed to the difference in education levels between Black men and women — for example, the racial gap in U.S. arrest rates.

The Pew study released Thursday also found that Asian women are far more likely to intermarry than Asian men. In 2015, just over one-third (36 percent) of newlywed Asian women had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, while 21 percent of newlywed Asian men had a spouse of a different race.

Loving vs. Virginia

In 1967, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represented Mildred Jeter, who was Black, and her childhood sweetheart, white construction worker Richard Loving, in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia. The couple was unable to lawfully reside in the state together due to laws banning marriage between Blacks and whites.

The Court ruled that marriage across racial lines was legal throughout the country. Until this ruling, interracial marriages were forbidden in many states.

The Pew report, which is an analysis of Pew surveys, U.S. Census Bureau data and data from the research group NORC at the University of Chicago, was released to mark 50 years since the landmark case.

More Key Findings:

    • About half (49 percent) of Democrats and Independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say the growing number of people of different races marrying each other is a good thing for society. Only 28 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents share that view.
    • Among newlyweds, intermarriage is most common for those in their 30s (18 percent). Even so, 13 percent of newlyweds ages 50 and older are married to someone of a different race or ethnicity.
    • White people living in urban areas are more likely to marry someone of a different race or ethnicity than those in non-urban areas. However, Hispanics and Asians are more likely to intermarry if they live in non-urban areas. And for Blacks the intermarriage rates do not vary by place of residence.
    • The most common intermarriages were between a Hispanic and white spouse, at 42 percent. The next most common was between a white and Asian spouse at 15 percent, followed by a multiracial and white spouse at 12 percent.

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