Interracial Marriages in U.S. Reach a Record

Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2012

Marriage across racial and ethnic lines has reached an all-time high in the U.S. amid fading social taboos and a more diverse society.

About 15% of all new marriages in the U.S. in 2010 were between individuals of a different race or ethnicity, more than double the share in 1980, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center. Among those married in 2010, 9% of whites, 17% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 28% of Asians married outside their ethnic or racial group.

“Intermarriage in this country has evolved from being illegal to being a taboo to being merely unusual,” said Paul Taylor, the Pew official who edited “The Rise of Intermarriage” report. “With each passing year, it becomes less unusual,” he said.

Behavioral, attitudinal and demographic shifts, including immigration, have contributed to the intermarriage trend, which the report analyses based on historical data and Census Bureau figures from the annual American Community Survey between 2008 and 2010.

In particular, attitudes have changed since the Supreme Court declared antimiscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. Until then, whites were still banned from marrying nonwhites in 16 states.

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Younger adults, especially those under the age of 30, tend to have a more positive view of intermarriage than older adults, according to a Pew survey that is part of the report. College graduates are much more likely to regard intermarriage positively than those with only a high-school diploma. {snip}

Out of the 275,500 intermarriages in 2010, 43% were white-Hispanic, 14.4% were white-Asian, 11.9% were white-black and the rest were other combinations. Mixed couples are most likely to reside in the Western states, where 22% of all newlyweds between 2008 and 2010 found a partner outside their group.

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Black-white unions are the least common, and black men are more than twice as likely to marry whites as black women.

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As intermarriage has climbed, a demographic paradox has concurrently emerged. The rate of outmarriage among Asians has declined, most likely because the pool of people who are members of the same group and of marrying age has swelled. The share of Asian newlyweds who married outside of their group dropped to 27.7% in 2010 from 30.5% in 2008.

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