Interracial marriages in US at all-time high

family law

The number of Americans married to someone of a different race is at an all-time high.

Such marriages have been legal across the United States since 1967. That was the year of landmark Supreme Court ruling Loving v Virginia, in which the highest judicial authority in the country ruled that any state law prohibiting interracial unions were invalid.

Only three per cent of all American marriages crossed racial lines in that year but by 2015 this had risen to 17 per cent, or one in every six, according to Washington DC-based think tank the Pew Research Center.

Since 1967, a steady increase in U.S. intermarriage

White Americans with a non-white spouse have increased from four per cent to 11 per cent in that time but they remain the least likely ethnic group to marry someone of a different race. Among black newlyweds in 2015, 18 per cent were part of an interracial marriage. Hispanic and Asian people the number of such unions was significantly higher, at 27 and 29 per cent respectively.

People who have gone to college are slightly more likely to “intermarry”. Among newly married graduates in 2015, 19 per cent of them had a spouse with a different ethnic background whereas 14 per cent of people who had just a high school education could say the same.

Changing racial attitudes have been credited as a driving force behind these increases.  As recently as 1990, 63 per cent of non-black people in the US claimed they would be opposed to one of their relatives marrying a black person. By 2016, this had dropped to just 14 per cent. The Pew Research Center has also identified similar trends among all races. Only nine per cent of non-Asian people said they would object to someone in their family marrying an Asian in 2016, which is down from 20 per cent in 2000. Negative attitudes towards Hispanic people saw an almost identical decline, from 21 to nine per cent in that time.

Although only seven per cent of non-white Americans would have had a problem with marriage to a white person in 2000, this number has also fallen. Now only four per cent would have such an objection.

Dramatic dive in share of nonblacks who would oppose a relative marrying a black person

The most common pairing among “intermarriages” in 2015 was a Hispanic spouse and white spouse. These made up 42 per cent of interracial unions. The next most popular, with 15 per cent, featured a white person marrying an Asian person.

Politically, there was “a sharp partisan divide in attitudes about interracial marriage” according to the Center’s report. Almost half of Democrats and independents who lean towards that party say these unions are good thing for society. By contrast, only 28 per cent of Republicans and right-leaning independents share this belief.

Read the full Pew Research Center Analysis here.

Photo by Kurl Marx via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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