This week’s Pew Center report finding that the rate of interracial marriage in the US continues to rise garnered very little attention presumably because we are all familiar with this trend. I thought, however, it was worth mentioning some points within that report that we should be talking about.
The first is that almost 24% of black men who took the walk down the aisle in 2010 did so with a woman of a different race – that’s an increase of 2 percentage points in only two years. The share of black women who married men of a different race also increased slightly, but at only 9% of marriages the share is tiny in comparison.
Study after study has illustrated that black women have the strongest same-race preference when it comes to dating and marriage (see my previous post here), but this current trend has to make us wonder whether/how those preferences will change in the coming years in light of the continuingly decreasing pool of available same-race partners.
(As an aside, marriages between white men and black women are far more likely to survive than are marriages between white men and white women so while of the flow into these marriages may be small the stock should be increasing over time.)
The second interesting point is that among Asian women who married in 2012 more than one third (36%) married outside of their race compared to 17% of Asian men. For both genders the share is smaller than two years earlier (by 3 percentage points for each), but what is really interesting is the massive decline in mixed race marriages among Asian men and women who were born in the US – a 9 percentage point decline (47% to 38%) in only two years.
There has to be a good economic story here – particularly given that among all possible groupings of married couples (same race and interracial) Asian-white married couples have the highest median incomes: $9,000 higher than the Asian-Asian couples and $11,000 higher than white-white couples.
Finally, the story of interracial marriage continues to revolve around education rates, particularly for the Hispanic population. Hispanic men who married white women were more likely to have a college degree than were Hispanic men who married Hispanic women – 23% compared to just 10%. Hispanic women who married white men were 20 percentage points more likely to be college educated compared to Hispanic women who married Hispanic men (33% compared to 13%).
White-Hispanic marriages were, by a long shot, the most common combination of mixed race marriages making up 43% in 2010.
This trend for educated Hispanics to “marry out” has long run implications for a community whose newly married couples have the lowest median incomes relative to all other newlyweds.