1 in 6 newlyweds' spouse is of different race or ethnicity

Alvin Kelly
May 19, 2017

Some 19 percent of marriages over a recent five-year period in the Chicago area were between people of different races or ethnicities, a new report says.

Intermarriage is increasingly common in part due to changing attitudes concerning race, and in part to the growing share of Asian-American and Hispanic people in the United States.

In the report, people were classified first by ethnicity, defined as Hispanic or not, and then by race - white, black, Asian, American Indian, multiracial or other. The share of people who oppose marriages with Asian or Hispanic people has also dropped from about one in five to around one in ten adults not in those groups.

"Part of it is about numbers", says Pew senior researcher Gretchen Livingston, a co-author of the report."The pool of potential spouses in urban areas in the USA tends to be a bit more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity than the pool in rural areas, so that fact in and of itself can increase the likelihood of intermarriage".

While Rosenfeld said the trend is an indication that "in family life, racial differences matter less than they used to", an increase in intermarriage doesn't mean it will become the norm. As the authors of the Pew report, Gretchen Livingston and Anna Brown, write: "While nearly half (46 percent) of Hispanic newlyweds with a bachelor's degree were intermarried in 2015, this share drops to (16 percent) for those with a high school diploma or less - a pattern driven partially, but not entirely, by the higher share of immigrants among the less educated". "There are just more demographic opportunities for people to marry someone of another race or ethnicity".

Daniel Litchter, director of the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, told the Associated Press that the biggest reason for intermarriage is the growing diversity of the USA population.

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White and black women were the least likely to consider someone of a different race or ethnicity in 2015. Thirty-six percent of Asian women and 28 percent of Hispanic women intermarried in 2015, while 26 percent of Hispanic men and 24 percent of black men married someone of a different race or ethnicity.

White men were the least likely among males to consider intermarriage, with only 12 per cent involved in interracial or interethnic marriages. The rate for black newlyweds has more than tripled since 1980 - from 5 percent to 18 percent.

Despite those numbers, intermarriage is rapidly becoming more popular among blacks and whites.

The most common paring in the U.S.is Hispanics and whites.

"Until this ruling, interracial marriages were forbidden in many states". The second most prevalent pair is white and Asian. Black and Latino men were most likely among men. Jackson, Mississippi, and Asheville, North Carolina, tie at 3 percent for the lowest share of intermarried newlyweds. For Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, less than 1 in 3 - or 28 per cent- saw marriages between races and ethnicities as a good thing for society.

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