Mixed Race Marriage

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For most of our country’s history, it was illegal for people from different races to wed. Slowly, norms changed, as did some state laws. However, it was not until the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision that interracial marriage became the law of the land.

When the Loving decision was handed down, just three percent of all marriages crossed racial lines. New data from the PEW Research Center show that today, that figure is at 17 percent. Interracial marriage will likely continue to increase, as 1 in 10 people married in 2015 tied the knot with someone from a different race.

Further examination of the data offers interesting insights. Asians are most likely to intermarry, as 29 percent of newlyweds do so. Whites, on the other hand, have the lowest proportion of mixed race marriages, with just 11 percent.

Gender also mixes with race to predict this occurrence. Asian women are much more likely than Asian men to marry someone from a different race, but the opposite is true for African Americans, where men are twice as likely as women to do so.

What accounts for these differences? Data from the General Social Survey show that attitudes toward interracial marriage have improved over time.

Education level also influences this trend. People with at least a bachelor’s degree are almost 50 percent more likely to have a mixed race marriage than are people who have a high school degree or less.  The education gap is most apparent among Hispanics, with highly educated newlyweds being three times more likely to marry someone from a different race.

Together, these data signal changes in attitudes and behaviors toward interracial marriages. This trend is only likely to continue as the country becomes more racially diverse.