Posted on July 27, 2011

Interracial Divorce, the Matrix of Sex & Race

Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, March 6, 2010

It has been known for years that interracial marriages have higher than expected divorce rates. But I did not know that the rates varied quite a bit contingent on the combination of race & sex. Gori Girl has a post up, Interracial Divorce in the U.S.–Statistics and How Much They Matter:

– Marriages that do not cross a race barrier, but do have different ethnicities (i.e. white/Hispanic white) have a rate of divorce just a little higher than white/white marriages.

– Interracial marriages that have one white person and one person of another race mostly only show higher divorce rates when the white spouse is a female (i.e. white guy + other race girl don’t show particularly high divorce rates compared to same-race couples).

– Black husband/white wife marriages are twice as likely to divorce as white/white marriages, and Asian husband/white wife marriages are about 60% more likely to divorce as white/white marriages. {snip}

– White husband/black wife were nearly 50% less likely to divorce than white/white couples, and white husband/Asian wife couples had pretty much the same divorce rate as white/white couples

– Compared to Hispanic/Hispanic couples, Hispanic white/white couples showed a higher likelihood of divorce (not surprising). Likewise, Asian/white couples were more likely to divorce than Asian/Asian couples. However, black/white couples only show a higher rate of divorce compared to black/black couples if the white person in the relationship is a woman.


The higher divorce rates for white female/non-white male dyads somewhat surprised me, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been. There seems a robust body of social science that white women in the United States are particularly race conscious. I stumbled onto a paper which emphasized this point, and its subtle nuances, recently. I didn’t blog it because the sex difference in racial mating preference is such a robust finding that it doesn’t seem noteworthy (though perhaps racialist message boards should focus a bit more on male rather than female “race traitors,” as it is the XY who are more open to sullying the purity of the volk). In any case, the paper is Gendered racial exclusion among white internet daters. Here’s the figure which stood out to me:

The big finding is this: among white women who stated a racial preference on Yahoo Personals, 73%, 64% of these selected that they wished to date white men only. In contrast, among white men who stated a racial preference, 60%, only 29% of these stated that they would like to date white women only. In other words: men who expressed racial preferences were excluding particular types of women, while women who expressed racial preferences were doing so to include only men of their own race. This seems to comport with previous work which suggests that once you control for perceived physical attractiveness men do not discriminate much in dating, while women continue to discriminate even if they assess out-group males to be physically attractive (e.g., one would conclude from this that the white male aversion to dating black women has to do with assessments of physical appearance, as much of the discriminatory effect disappears once you control for assessed attractiveness). This makes some sense, men generally weight physical appearance higher than women in the calculus which determines their preferences.