Interracial relationships and marriages are becoming more common

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.

Pat Cassano, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, and Ron Booker, associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, are an interracial couple who have been together since she was 19 and he was 20 years old, about 31 years ago.

“We think that’s because relationships are more likely to be interracial the more recently they were formed, so younger people are more likely to have interracial relationships. This trend reflects the increasing acceptance of interracial relationships in today’s society,” said Kara Joyner, assistant professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell and co-author of a study on interracial relationships in a recent issue of the American Sociological Review (Vol. 70:4).

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.

To explore the changing patterns of interracial sexual relationships during the transition to adulthood, Joyner and her co-author, Grace Kao, associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the National Health and Social Life Survey, some of the first nationally representative surveys to collect information on sexual relationships.

“Studying trends in interracial sexual relationships is important because intimate relationships between different racial groups are viewed as an indicator of the social and geographic distance between racial groups, and a barometer of race relations,” said Joyner. Unlike other studies, which typically look at marriage or cohabitation and sometimes at current dating relationships, this study looked at trends in these relationships over a 10-year period.

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.)

While Hispanic is an ethnic group composed of both racial and ethnic groups, Joyner, like many demographers, uses the categories — non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black (or African-American) and Hispanic (or Latino) — to measure race.

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.

“In the analyses we did run, however, it looks like involvement in interracial relationships increases with age for Asians,” said Joyner.

“Although interracial relationships were far more common in the early part of this decade than in the mid-1990s — about five percentage points higher — they still decline with age,” said Joyner, noting that the fact that many young adults’ transition to marriage is also a factor in the age decline. The rate of interracial marriage, however, is still relatively uncommon: in 2002, only 2.9 percent of all marriages were interracial, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

In a 2003 study, Joyner had reported that adolescents in interracial romances were significantly less willing to reveal their relationship to family and close friends than those in same-race relationships, suggesting that such relationships still do not receive whole-hearted approval by society.

The study was supported, in part, by grants from McGill University, Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

From Cornell University

40 COMMENTS

  1. I will tell you guys a secret. As an emergency room physician, I have learned what the true motives of white women dating black males actually are. The majority of black males (82%) have genital herpes, and their white female partners, in my ER experience are about (95%) infected with herpes. There is usually a prostitution arrangement that the white women was baited with. It is so distressing to see this happen, but I feel the white race is doing itself a favor actually encouraging the lower class, unintelligent sick females disseminate their rotten genes into the black race, which will ultimately cause the entire black race to die.

    • Jet- That’s just stupid. All humans are the same species, meaning they are capable of making babies. Not only are cardinals and blue jays two different species, they are also from a different family and genus. Saying cardinals and blue jays don’t mate is like saying humans and monkeys don’t mate- same order, but different family, genus, and species. Please retake 6th grade biology before you make any more ignorant comments like that.

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  4. There is a new blog myzebrachronicles.com that deals with this whole interracial dating, marriage issue. Written by a white woman married to a black man for over three decades. They also have grown children.

  5. i m a white girl with blond hair and blue. i m not fat. i dream about blackman in general. me and my friends talks about it. it is a myth. they say it is huge, deep and the dark skin tone inside is awesome. i have 2 white kids. i do not want to hurt them but i want to try out. are there any suggestion?

  6. I am in a very serious interracial relationship. While we are doing great my family is having a hard time accepting him. I believe the major factor is race. Its sad.

    We must make sure that we are educating our children that color does not matter and differences are good.
    It is the only way that in the future problems like we are having with my family can be resolved.

  7. I support Inter/racial relationships! I believe love has no color!

    This club is for those of us that don’t discriminate! This is to all my people who don’t care about somebody’s ethnic background, just how they are on the inside.

    If you want to find a sincere Inter/racial relationship. If you are serious. Come and join us!

  8. hey am an asian girl from malaysia. i’ve been dating a nigerian for almost a year now. we staying together for like 8 months now and it doesn’t work well. we fight almost everyday because of any issues. for your information, we are in a different religion, different race (definately), different country and we have nothing in common at all. at first when we started dating, it was so sweet but now it is getting bitter. but we can’t live without each other. we past through hell eventhough it is not even up to 6 months we were dating. everybody was against us and they tried everything they can to separate us. but we got through that hell together, and right now we have problems dealing with each other. it is like we don’t even know how to communicate anymore. we did try to sit down and talk but still it doesn’t work. can anyone help me? is it because of different race or it is just us?

  9. your father sounds like he may be too set in his ways. Although, you need to see it from his perspective. Color should have nothing to do with how you feel about a person, but is the guy you like a thug, a delinquint, an outkast of society? if so, I side with your father. Oh, and don’t go out with him just to make your father mad…thats not right.

    and to respond to the phrase in the blog: I am African Americacan I; there was a remark explaining that nerds are “overwhite” and that black men represnt “anti-nerdiness”, strength and coolness? Well, thats the type of racial crap that has hurt America for many, many years. I am a white male, and I feel that that just because of the color of my skin, I am to be stereotyped as a weak individual? People like that should never open their mouths. They infest our brains with useless crap just so they feel better. Oh..wait im not a nerd either.

  10. i like a boy that is african american… my dad is racist though, and it’s bad. if i dated a boy that was black, he would disown me… yes this is very hard for me. but i would rather respect my families wishes than betray them. i can’t stand my dad for what he is. but he says he just wants what is best for me. i think that when you are young, you should listen to your parents, but when you have your own life, do what you think is right <3

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