Interracial Relationships Are on the Increase In U.S., But Decline with Age, Cornell Study Finds

Susan S. Lang, WebWire, Nov. 2

ITHACA, N.Y.—Interracial relationships and marriages are becoming more common in the United States, according to a new Cornell University study.

The number of interracial marriages involving whites, blacks and Hispanics each year in the United States has jumped tenfold since the 1960s, but the older individuals are, the less likely they are to partner with someone of a different race, finds the new study.

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Although more young adults are dating and cohabiting with someone of a different race, the study found that interracial relationships are considerably less likely than same-race relationships to lead to marriage, though this trend has weakened in recent years.

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The researchers found that among 18- to 25-year-olds in 1990 and in 2000, interracial sexual involvement became increasingly common, with the greatest increase seen in cohabitating relationships, followed by dating relationships and then marriages.

Yet, interracial relationships declined with age within these two periods. In 1990, for example, about 14 percent of 18- to 19-year-olds, 12 percent of 20- to 21-year-olds and 7 percent of 34- to 35-year-olds were involved in interracial relationships. Roughly 10 years later, 20 percent of 18- to 19-year-olds and 16 percent of 24- to 25-year-olds were in an interracial relationship. (Information on 34- to 35-year-olds was not available for this period.)

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In Joyner’s study, Hispanics had the highest rate of interracial relationships: 45 percent of 18- to 19-year-olds and 33 percent of 24- to 25-year-olds were in interracial relationships in the early 2000s, compared with blacks (20 and 14 percent, respectively) and whites (16 and 12 percent, respectively). While Asians appear to be comparable to Hispanics in terms of rates of interracial involvement, age patterns for Asians were not presented in the study, Joyner said, because there were so few within some of the age groups in the surveys.

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