And, as sociologist Dan Lichter points out, the biggest increase appears to be within minority groups.
1. Trends and patterns in intermarriage
White Americans still mostly marry other whites. Paul Taylor et al. Pew Research Center, Interestingly, although younger people were more accepting of intermarriage, the Pew report found little difference in actual intermarriage rates by age—newlyweds age 50 or older were about as likely to marry out as younger newlyweds.
Only 11 percent of intermarriages were between black and white Americans, reflecting the persistent cultural resistance against relationships between these races. Most common were marriages between a white and a Hispanic 41 percent , followed by marriage between a white and an Asian American 15 percent. These marriages follow similar patterns by sex as interracial marriages of previous decades. For whites, men and women are about as likely to marry a Hispanic, but differ in their rates of marriage to blacks and Asians see Figure 2. Unions between Asians and whites are also very sex-selective, with most marriages occurring between white men and Asian women.
Although Asian men are much less likely to marry out than Asian women, they are much more likely than whites to intermarry. Twenty percent of Asian men married a non-Asian in , compared with 40 percent of Asian women. Likewise, black women are much less likely to intermarry than black men. More than one-fifth of black men intermarried in , while just 9 percent of black women did. There has been much speculation about why these gender preferences exist—reasons that delve into racial stereotypes and politics. Hispanic men and women are about as likely to marry outside their ethnic group, and they tend to marry non-Hispanic whites more than other groups.
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The likelihood of choosing a marriage partner of another race or ethnic group is also influenced by the available pool of people of the appropriate age and with a similar educational background, because most people marry someone close in age and educational level. This partly explains why U. Both white and black Americans have plenty of potential partners within their own groups. Asians, on the other hand, make up only about 4 percent of the U. And they are the group most likely to marry out.
Nearly 31 percent of Asians marrying in had a non-Asian spouse, about the same percentage as in This demographic change has other effects: Foreign-born Asians are less likely to marry out than U. Significant growth in the Hispanic and Asian populations in the U. At the same time, the share of white newlyweds declined by 15 points and the share of black newlyweds held steady. And members of smaller racial or ethnic groups may be more likely to intermarry because relatively few potential partners share their race or ethnicity. But size alone cannot totally explain intermarriage patterns.
One of the most dramatic patterns occurs among black newlyweds: A significant gender gap in intermarriage is apparent among Asian newlyweds as well, though the gap runs in the opposite direction: While the gender gap among Asian immigrants has remained relatively stable, the gap among the U. As is the case among whites, intermarriage is about equally common for newlywed Hispanic men and women.
These intermarriage rates have changed little since In the likelihood of marrying someone of a different race or ethnicity was somewhat higher among newlyweds with at least some college experience than among those with a high school diploma or less. This marks a change from , when there were virtually no educational differences in the likelihood of intermarriage among newlyweds. The same patterns and trends emerge when looking separately at newlywed men and women; there are no overall gender differences in intermarriage by educational attainment.
The association between intermarriage and educational attainment among newlyweds varies across racial and ethnic groups. For instance, among Hispanic newlyweds, higher levels of education are strongly linked with higher rates of intermarriage. This pattern may be partly driven by the fact that Hispanics with low levels of education are disproportionately immigrants who are in turn less likely to intermarry. However, rates of intermarriage increase as education levels rise for both the U.
There is no significant gender gap in intermarriage among newly married Hispanics across education levels or over time.
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Intermarriage has risen dramatically at all education levels for blacks, with the biggest proportional increases occurring among those with the least education. Among black newlyweds, there are distinct gender differences in intermarriage across education levels. In , the rate of intermarriage varied by education only slightly among recently married black women: While intermarriage is associated with higher education levels for Hispanics and blacks, this is not the case among Asian newlyweds.
This pattern reflects dramatic changes since Asian newlyweds with some college are somewhat less likely to be immigrants, and this may contribute to the higher rates of intermarriage for this group. There are sizable gender gaps in intermarriage across all education levels among recently married Asians, with the biggest proportional gap occurring among those with a high school diploma or less.
Among white newlyweds, the likelihood of intermarrying is fairly similar regardless of education level. The lower rate of intermarriage among older newlyweds in is largely attributable to a lower rate among women.
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Among recently married men, however, intermarriage did not vary substantially by age. Intermarriage varies little by age for white and Hispanic newlyweds, but more striking patterns emerge among black and Asian newlyweds. Among Asian newlyweds, a different pattern emerges. A closer look at intermarriage among Asian newlyweds reveals that the overall age pattern of intermarriage — with the highest rates among those in their 40s — is driven largely by the dramatic age differences in intermarriage among newly married Asian women.
Though the overall rate of intermarriage does not differ markedly by age among white newlyweds, a gender gap emerges at older ages. A similar gender gap in intermarriage emerges at older ages for Hispanic newlyweds. Among black newlyweds, men are consistently more likely than women to intermarry at all ages.
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There are likely many reasons that intermarriage is more common in metro areas than in more rural areas. Attitudinal differences may play a role.
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