As America becomes more diverse, interethnic and interracial
marriage has become much more common, according to a Pew report
Americans are more likely than ever before to marry outside their
race or ethnicity.
Nearly 1 in 7 marriages in 2008 was interracial or interethnic,
according to a report released by the Pew Research Center Friday.
That's more than double the intermarriage rate of the 1980s and six
times the intermarriage rate of the 1960s.
Also, most Americans say they approve of interracial marriage,
with more than 6 in 10 saying they're OK if a family member marries
outside his or her group. Thirty-five percent say they already have
a family member who is married to someone of a different race or
"Race relations have certainly changed in a positive way," says
Daniel Lichter, a professor of sociology at Cornell University in
Ithaca, N.Y. "This indicates greater racial tolerance, a blurring of
the racial divides in the US. In general, it's an optimistic
Still, he cautions against notions that the United States is
entering a postracial era.
"I don't think these racial boundaries are going to go away
anytime soon, despite these patterns we're seeing over past 20
years," Dr. Lichter says. "It's hard to imagine the black-white
divide in particular is going to go away anytime soon."
Immigration, changing attitudes drive trend
Waves of immigrants from Latin America and Asia are driving the
intermarriage trend by enlarging the pool of potential marriage
partners, says Jeffrey Passel, a lead researcher and author of Pew's
"American society is becoming more diverse, and workplaces,
schools, and other arenas are fairly open so people can meet others
of different races on one-to-one levels," Mr. Passel says.
"Underneath that, there's a broad acceptance of interracial
marriages that 40 or 50 years ago just didn't exist."
But, he adds, "It's very much a generational phenomenon." While
80 to 90 percent of people under age 30 say they find interracial
marriages acceptable, that number falls to about 30 percent for
those over 65, he says. "People 65 and over grew up in the '30,
'40s, and '50s when such things weren't acceptable or were illegal.
That's an indicator of how things have changed."
Whites', blacks' rate of intermarriage rising; Hispanics, Asians
Approximately 280,000 of the roughly 2 million marriages in 2008
were between spouses of different races or ethnicities, according to
the Pew report. White-Hispanic couplings accounted for the greatest
proportion of those intermarriages, at 41 percent. …