August 02, 2010

A Closer Look at Interracial Marriage Statistics

new janis By Janis Prince Inniss

“Interracial Marriages at an all time high, study says” – CNN

“Study: 1 in 7 New U.S. Marriages is Interracial” – CBS News

Interracial marriage: more than double the ‘rate in the 1980s’” – The Christian Science Monitor

Interracial Marriage More Common Than Ever, but Black Women Still Lag, Pew Survey Shows One in Six New Marriages Now Between People of Different Colors” - ABC News

After 40 years, interracial marriage flourishing, Since landmark 1967 ruling, unions have moved from radical to everyday” - MSNBC

New Study Finds There Are More Interracial Marriages Than Ever” – Glamour magazine

Armed with these headlines alone, what can we surmise about interracial marriage in the U.S.? Given that such unions are “flourishing,” “common,” and at “an all time high,” I might assume that the people I know are unusual because they are not in interracial relationships.

But let’s go beyond the headlines. In fact, let’s go to the source of many of these headlines --a recent Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. The data show that 14.6 percent of all new marriages in the U.S. occurred between people of differing ethnicities/races. The distinction between new marriages and already married people is an important one to pay attention to because it tells us what population the statistic refers to; without keeping that in mind, the numbers tell us nothing.

So back to the statistic--14.6 percent – because it refers to new marriages, and new marriages are only a portion of all marriages..

It is hard to qualify 14.6 percent or 8.0 percent of almost anything as being abundant; the bottom line regarding interracial marriage in the U.S. is that it remains highly unusual. Yet the media has been very busy reporting results of the Pew Research Center on interracial marriage.

What some of these headlines highlight is a trend. They point out that although intermarriages are a small portion of all marriages, over the past 30 years, the portion of new and ongoing marriages has increased drastically. Notice that some headlines highlight this comparison: In 1980, 3.2 percent of all married people were in interracial relationships, but 8.0 percent were in 2010. And the 14.6 percent of new marriages that are interracial is up from 6.7of new marriages in percent in 2008.

In both cases, it is legitimate to refer to current rates of interracial marriage as being “at an all time high” and indeed they are now “more than double” what they were. But hopefully, with some training, either of these kinds of qualifiers will prompt you to ask, “High? How high?” and “More than double what number?” Unless we think about and get this kind of detail, we are left with the impression that interracial marriage has swept the land!

As we consider these statistics, it’s also important to remember that interracial marriages were illegal in some states in the U.S. until 1967, with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Loving v. Virginia case. Given the social and legal context of the day, even without knowledge of the data of the last 30 years, would you have guessed that there was a rash of interracial marriages in 1968, 1969, or 1970? Or even in 1977, ten years after the Supreme Court decision? No. Therefore, baseline data on interracial marriage reflects the scarcity of this phenomenon.

And because of that, even relatively small increases can be described as indicative of big change. For example, 2 percent is double 1 percent, but 2 percent of something still isn’t a lot. Increases from 3.2 percent to 8.0 percent, and from 6.7 percent to 14.6 percent represent the same kind of change.

At the end of the last post on interracial marriage, I wrote, “Regarding young Mr. Smith, like 84.5 percent of people in his racial/ethnic group, he is marrying within his race.” The first chart in that piece contained the answer to Mr. Smith’s racial identity; unlike 15.5 percent of Blacks, he is not entering an interracial marriage. That same chart also highlights the point—displaying data for four racial/ethnic groups—that most newlyweds are not marrying people of a different racial/ethnic background.

Take a look at the chart below:

image

Initially, as I looked at the bars representing black men next to the bar representing black women, I was perplexed. Why? Because the proportions are so similar; it looked to me like black men and black women marry “out” at the same rate, and to the same other race/ethnicity. But how is that possible when we know from an even earlier post focusing on black/white interracial relationships (see chart below) that there are far more white women and black men married than there are white men and black women?

I expected to see that jump out at me in the bar chart above and was surprised to see such similarities. Do you see the fault in my initial thinking? It’s the issue of the population again. Data in the bar chart are of blacks who “out-married”, while the line graph compares raw numbers of black/white couples. Therefore, to make a direct comparison I had to remind myself that the shaded portion of the bar chart that represents black marriages to whites represents about 100,000 women but more than 300,000 black men.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Table 59 and MS-3.

Blue line represents black husband/white wife.

Red line represents white husband/black wife.

Both the headlines and the data about interracial marriage remind us that we need to think critically about what numbers we hear about really tell us about social change.

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Comments

I thought this blog was very interesting, in that statistics can be deceiving when they are not presented in context. The blog caught my attention because I am a white woman engaged to a black man - we've been in a relationship for twelve years and finally decided to get married. We have as friends several interracial couples, but the majority of our 'coupled friends' are of the same race. Our reality is that interracial relationships are increasing in our circle of friends and acquaintances, but are still less than those of same race relationships, but not by much. In those interracial relationships that we know of, it is about a 50/50 split between white male/female of color and male of color/white female. While the statistics presented in this blog are revealing as to the larger population, and give an indication of the general direction of interracial relationships (something my fiance calls the 'browning of America') in our own community and personal context, they are not entirely reflective of our own experiences, as it seems what we see in our community is far more interracial relationships than the national figures indicate.

I thought this blog was very interesting, in that statistics can be deceiving when they are not presented in context. The blog caught my attention because I am a white woman engaged to a black man - we've been in a relationship for twelve years and finally decided to get married. We have as friends several interracial couples, but the majority of our 'coupled friends' are of the same race. Our reality is that interracial relationships are increasing in our circle of friends and acquaintances, but are still less than those of same race relationships, but not by much. In those interracial relationships that we know of, it is about a 50/50 split between white male/female of color and male of color/white female. While the statistics presented in this blog are revealing as to the larger population, and give an indication of the general direction of interracial relationships (something my fiance calls the 'browning of America') in our own community and personal context, they are not entirely reflective of our own experiences, as it seems what we see in our community is far more interracial relationships than the national figures indicate.

It is interesting how interracial and other heterogamy marriages are growing. America has become more racially and ethically integrated, so people have the opportunity to mix more freely.

I think the article is interesting in the fact that it shows
a completely different story than what's told on media television. I read in an interdisciplinary study of human behaviors that for black-white couples, the most common pattern (73 percent) is a black man and a white woman. The study went on to state that oddly, in the mass media, black man-white woman couples are almost nonexistent. Television, indeed, has the power to present things the way it wants the public to see and internalize. For a lot of people, this information is "factual" and nothing else matters.

The comment that black male-white female couples in the media are rare is ridiculous. On the contrary, they are PERVASIVE. Especially in ads, the liberal media relentlessly pairs off white women with black males - GO LOOK. They are becoming more offensive too. Remember Nicollette Sheridan jumping naked on a black football player in an NFL ad?

I would like to commend anyone who is open-minded enough to research the topic of interracial love and the possibility that people who do not look alike might somehow still be attracted to one another in a loving manner.

I dont find it suprising that interracial and heterogamy marriages are more common. They can be seen everywhere you go unlike 10 years ago when people were sort of suprised to see this. I think its a very good sign that people are becoming more open minded about who someone should or should not date or marry.

I am a black female, married to a white male for 22 1/2 years. We were married in 1989 and among the people that we were aware of that were interacially married, our combination was rare in the 1980s. The 1970s exhibited quite a few black male/white female relationships, but rarely black female/white male. We have noticed the changes in the couples that we have seen over the years. There is an increase of black female/white male couples. We found that what drew us together was based more on socio-economic factors than race. We had similar backgrounds on a socioeconomic level, more so than my previous black husband. Most of the information for studies on interracial dating have occurred on college campuses. This environment makes it easiar for people of mixed races to come together, they are more or less on a level playing field, with futures based on education. I'm not sure what kind of statistics are offered on interacial relationships based on socio-economic comparisons.

My daughter was raised in an area where there were no blacks. There was maybe one or two adopted kids in the school system and there were no parents of color. There was a lot of racism expressed by the locals and the red-neck boys acted ignorantly. when the white girls went to college an astounding rate of interracial relationships occurred.

Wow this is very interesting because it shows how stats can be exploited and manipulated to a degree but I do think that there has been an obvious increase in interracial relationships. I’m only 17 and even in my short life I have seen many more interracial relationships throughout my life. I think the most common is black men with white women. The media and TV and music have highlighted this situation and have made people much more open to interracial love in my opinion. Others common examples are black white, white Asian, white Hispanic and Hispanic black. I think a rare one is black women and white men people are not very accepting of this situation when I hear black women white man I immediately think of napoleon dynamite which is a very stereotypical example and not accurate in the majority.

Headlines can be annoying, especially when they're manipulated like that. People need to actually look at the sources, like you have.

TO ERIN

the most common is not black men white women it is only around 349 000 married couples it is however asian women and white men which is over 548 000

look up the census data for the us anywhere u'll see

(I'm black)Well I'm 13 and very intrested about this kind of stuff. Well I've like white guys before and I can c they like me back but we don't tell each other we do because he is scared of what society might think. But whatever so like this asian guy asked me out and I really like him and I think I'm going to say yeas :) :P

I found this blog to be very interesting. Hetergamy, marriae between people with differing social characteristics is becoming more popular in the United States. America is becoming more racially and ethically intergrated which is allowing people to mix more freely. Also you see the number of interacial marriages increasing in the United States.

I'm a white male at 50. I was asked about this from a young black man I was 'training' as an OTR driver. Told him,'You marry when you want to 'settle'; if you marry that person, they better be as mature and focused as you are when you decide to do this.' Marriage, this has destroyed more men than war, disease and IQ testing combined.

Regardless of statistics from any resource, BM/WW interracial couples still and will always make up the majority. Whether or not we want to admit it in these socially progressive times, there is a sexual stigma large enough to have created it's own fetish community (hundreds of thousands in members) that cannot be found in any other interracial category. Disagree? Find ONE that is based on strict sexual relationships between Women of ANY color partnered with White Male, Asian Male, Hispanic Male or any other. You can't because there aren't any. Love may be colorblind but it's safe to say that a lot of White Women are dating Black Men strictly out of sexual curiosity.

Hate to break it to you Kyle, but AF/WM outnumber WF/BM

I am a young african american who is marrying a young man outside my race and it appears to normal to us. Our families and friends do not find it an issue either. My fiance is not white he is Bulgarian. I love him for who he is and not for the color of his skin. He is a beautiful man on the inside.

My husband and I are not having the same race but from the very start this has never been an issue to the two of us. We both understand each other because we love each other.

With the domination of high technology headed by computers, intercultural marriages is now a trend. With the social media (facebook, tweeter, viber etc) accessibility to different races, meeting people, chatting and a lot of channels give way to marriages.

For me this is a positive social change if people are to use this channel in better and positive ways.

I don't think interracial is a problem to many couples. I believe that as long as they loved each other, I don't think interracial is an issue between them.

I thought racial discrimination has already ended long ago, but until now there some issues like this; it's so sad to note that marriages will be broken because of this issues.

Interracial for me is not a valid reason for a couple to be broken as long as they love each other very much.

The real issue with these figures is that they come from the Current Population Survey rather than the Decennial Census. The CPS has always had bigger errors and different numbers than the Decennial Census.

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