Friday, February 17, 2012

New Report on Interracial Marriage in the U.S.

There's a new Pew Poll report on interracial marriage in America. The report is very involved and looks at a variety of different measures. Some of their key findings:

  • Interracial marriages are on the rise. About 15% of new marriages are between people who identify as different races, compared to 6.7% in 1980.
  • States in the West have higher rates of interracial marriages (22%) than the South (14%), Northeast (13%), or Midwest (11%)
  • On the surface, people who "marry out" have similar educational and economic attainment as those who "marry in," but differences arise when looking at the racial identification of the pairings (for instance, a white/Asian couple has a higher median income ($70,952) than a white/white couple ($60,000) or an Asian/Asian couple ($62,000).

The part that was most interesting to me was the Public Opinion section

"Nearly six-in-ten liberals (59%) think that more people of different races marrying each other has been a better change for our society, nearly half (48%) of moderates agree, compared with less than one-third (32%) of conservatives who say so."

Of the questions designed to gauge public opinion on the impact of social decisions on the larger society, interracial dating is viewed favorable by the most people and unfavorable by the least people.

The percentage of people who say that interracial marriage is acceptable is at an all-time high (83%). Among adults ages 18-29, that rate is 93%. It is lowest among adults 65 and older (67%).

Does anyone know what caused the huge jump from 1990 to 1991? I'm really curious.

The saddest finding was the prejudice within subcategories of some of the findings. I was especially frustrated--though not particularly surprised--to see that people were more willing to accept their family member dating someone who was Asian or Hispanic than they were to see their family member dating someone who was black. 

Also, since these items were not asked of people who were of that particular race, these responses demonstrate that people of color are more likely to accept interracial marriage of their group members with white people than the other way around. 

So, what's the hope for the future? If 93% of young adults find interracial marriage acceptable, what will a survey like this look like in twenty years? Will they maintain that point of view into later adulthood? Will their children adopt their open-mindedness? I am optimistic that these trends will continue and that interracial marriage will be viewed with more and more acceptance. Still, my optimism is a little crushed when I think about it a broader context:

As this question posed to Yo, Is This Racist? points out, perhaps the saddest part is that this is an issue that need to be polled in the first place.

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