Why 1 in 7 U.S. Couples Are “Marrying out”

Debra Kent, Yahoo! Match, January 27, 2014

{snip} Today, one in seven new marriages in the United States is between people of different races or ethnicities, according to analysis of U.S. Census data by the Pew Research Center.

These stats hold special meaning for online daters, who are casting wider nets in their search for the perfect match. People open to marrying outside their race or ethnicity “have a bigger pool to choose from, and it’s good to have more options,” says Brian G. from Hoboken, NJ, the first of 10 siblings to marry someone who doesn’t share the same ethnic background as his family. He admits that his mother was hesitant at first, but softened as soon as she met her future daughter-in-law. In fact, most Americans are cool with the idea of a family member “marrying out” — a phrase that now sounds almost moldy to modern ears. In fact, 6 out of 10 people interviewed for the Pew study said “it would be fine” with them if a family member announced plans to marry someone from any of three major races and/or ethnic groups other than their own.

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What’s behind this trend? Collapsing cultural taboos against intermarriage and major waves of immigration over several decades from Asia and Latin America are some of the major drivers. Then there’s the Internet effect; online dating and social media seem to bridge cultural chasms by emphasizing the importance of people’s thoughts, feelings and experiences over their physical appearance. “Technology has shrunk the world,” says Natalie Bencivenga, relationship expert and cofounder of twodaymag.com. “We no longer seem so alien to each other.”

Not surprisingly, the trend skews by region, showing lower numbers in southern and northeastern states, with higher numbers out west. {snip}

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Five interesting facts about couples who are “marrying out”

1. Among all the newlyweds interviewed in 2008, 31% of Asians, 26% of Hispanics, 16% of African Americans and 9% of Caucasians married someone different from their own race or ethnicity.

2. Between 1980 and 2008, intermarriages in the U.S. more than doubled. Rates more than doubled among Caucasians and nearly tripled among African Americans.

3. A record 14.6% of all new marriages registered in the U.S. in 2008 were between two people of differing different races or ethnicities. {snip}

4. There are a few striking gender differences. For instance, about 22% of all African American male newlyweds in 2008 married outside their race, compared with only 9% of African American females. Among Asians, the gender pattern is more dramatic, but reversed—40% of Asian female newlyweds tied the knot with non-Asian men, compared with just 20% of Asian males marrying non-Asian brides.

5. More than a third of adults say that one of their family members is currently in an interracial marriage. African Americans say this at higher rates than Caucasians do; the numbers include a larger percentage of younger adults than older adults, and more of them live in western states versus other areas of the country.

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