1 in 6 newlywed spouses are of different race or ethnicity

Posted May 19, 2017

Since then, many American couples have availed themselves of that right, although white people remain much less likely to marry another race than people of other races, according to a new report from Pew Research.

Among all married Americans, about 10 percent, or 11 million people, had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, said Pew, which based its report on Census Bureau data. That number represents a significant increase from the 3 percent figure listed for 1967, when the Supreme Court first ruled that interracial marriages were legal.

In 2015, Asians were the most likely to intermarry; 29% of Asian newlyweds were hitched to someone of a different race or ethnicity.

Daniel Litchter, director of the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, told the Associated Press that the biggest reason for intermarriage is the growing diversity of the USA population.

For instance, while Birmingham-Hoover may have a higher rate of newlywed interracial marriages than the Asheville metro area, "85% of the pool of potential spouses is white" in greater Asheville, while "in Birmingham, the marriage market is comprised of 57% non-Hispanic whites and 37% non-Hispanic blacks", according to Pew. Virginia law also prohibited residents from traveling to other states to avoid miscegenation laws, which is exactly what Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Loving, a black and Native American woman, did when they exchanged vows in Washington in 1958. In 2015, 10 percent of all married Americans were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity. Nearly 30% of Asians who married in 2015 Wednesday someone of another race, and about 27% of Hispanics married a non-Hispanic, says Pew. Whites have experienced a sharp increase in intermarriage rates, even though they remain the group least likely to have a spouse of another race.

White men were the least likely among males to consider intermarriage, with only 12 per cent involved in interracial or interethnic marriages.

Just 4 percent of nonwhites object to marrying whites, while roughly 9 percent of non-Asians and non-Hispanics object to interracial marriages with members of those groups.

The increase in interracial marriages has been accompanied by a sharp shift in attitudes, as Americans have expressed more openness toward interracial relationships. Since 1980, the number of blacks who chose to marry someone of a different race or ethnicity rose from 5 per cent to 18 per cent. Whites also have become more accepting of intermarriage, with the rates increasing from 4 per cent to 11 per cent during that same time period. For white newlyweds, the rate has nearly tripped from 4 percent to 11 percent over the same period.

The Pew report comes about a month before the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia. Alabama was the last state to completely lift bans against interracial marriage in 2000. Most Republicans (60 percent) say the rise of interracial marriages doesn't make much of a difference. The next most common was between a white and an Asian spouse at 15 percent followed by a multiracial and a white spouse at 12 percent.

Overall, the report found that college graduates were slightly more likely to be in an interracial marriage than people who did not finish college. Eighteen per cent of newlyweds in metropolitan areas were intermarried compared with 11 per cent living elsewhere.

A February poll by Pew found that 39 percent of respondents say marrying someone of a different race is good for society.