Friday, September 16, 2011

Marriage Outside of Racial Boundaries Increases, finds study; Immigration affects U.S. marriage

~Black and White Marriages Increased Rapidly Since 1980s, Study Finds~
“It used to be that race trumped everything, including education, when it came to marriage between blacks and whites; that is changing. For the first time, we found that highly educated blacks and whites were more likely to intermarry. That is very significant and is another sign that racial boundaries are blurring.” ~Zhenchao Qian, professor of sociology at Ohio State University
A new study of interracial marriages in the United States since the 1980s suggests that the racial boundary between blacks and whites continues to break down, although it has not disappeared yet. The study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, says that marriages between blacks and whites have continued to increase. Meanwhile, Latin and Hispanic Americans have started marrying their racial compatriots from among newly arrived immigrants.

According to Qian,  understanding changes in interracial marriages is complex because it involves two different factors. It considers first: “the marriage market of who is available to marry," said Qian. But it also involves individuals’ choices about who they would be willing to marry.

There was only a slight increase in marriages between whites and Hispanics. However, marriages between U.S. born and foreign born Asians and Hispanics increased rapidly between 2000 and 2008. This is due to the increase in immigration of Hispanics and Asians into the United States resulting in a larger pool of potential marriage partners from their own racial and ethnic groups.

“With the enormous growth of the immigrant population, Asians and Hispanics now have more opportunities than ever to find a marital partner who shares the same cultural background. Such marriages reinforce their cultural identity,” said co-author Dr Daniel Lichter from Cornell University.

Even though the rate of marrages between whites and African Americans is increasing rapidly, the total of those marriages is "still a small number,” said Zhenchao Qian, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University.
“Our results point to better race relations in 2008 than 1980, but we still have a way to go." Zhenchao Qian
In 1980, only 5 percent of black men married a white woman, but that increased to 14 percent in 2008. Still, by comparison, 38 percent of Asian American men and Hispanic men married a white woman in 2008.

Source: Qian. Z, Lichter. D, “Changing Patterns of Interracial Marriage in a Multiracial Society”, Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2011.
Image credit: Mike Licht, Nations via Flickr

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