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Dramatic Increase of Interracial Marriages Since 1980

black-white marriage, interracial marriage, journal of marriage and family, american marriage survey, Zhenchao Qian, Daniel Lichter

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By Gina E. Ryder, Christian Post Contributor
September 16, 2011|2:13 pm

A new study has found that interracial marriage is on the rise, proving that racial boundaries between blacks and whites continue to break down since the 1980’s.

Marriage between African Americans and whites increased between 1980 and 2008, revealing a faster rate of biracial unions between whites and other ethnic and racial groups, including Latinos, Asian Americans and American Indians, according to a study published in the October 2011 issue of Journal of Marriage and Family

Using data gleaned from American Marriage Survey, this study concentrated on new marriages begun each year between 1980 and 2008. This allowed the researchers from Ohio State University to see how marriages are reacting to current social conditions.

Most studies use data on all marriages – including couples that married decades ago, when their cultural environment was very different from that of today.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Zhenchao Qian, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University, said that immigration and education are the two main factors influencing the rise of interracial marriage with education being the largest factor as Qian believes highly educated individuals have increased cultural awareness that influences their marriage decisions.

“A highly educated person attending college on a diversified campus has more opportunities to interact with difference races,” Zhenchao Qian told CP.

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Qian cites what he refers to as the “marriage market” and “marriage preference” as the two main ways to comprehend complex changes in interracial marriages. The “marriage market” is who is available to marry and “marriage preference” refers to individual’s choice.

“Stereotypes decrease even more so as highly educated people enter integrated workplaces that offer diverse circumstances,” said Qian.

"The number of marriages between whites and African Americans is undeniably increasing rapidly, but it is still a small number," added Qian.

Daniel Lichter, study researcher and Cornell University professor has said, “The rise in America’s multiracial population blurs racial boundaries.”

Immigration’s affect on population is a factor in the overall rise of interracial marriage but this research suggests elevated levels of open mindedness towards race are a higher influence.

When the researchers calculated what would have happened if the size and characteristics of minority populations hadn't changed between 1980 and 2008, they found intermarriage rates would have actually increased rather than decreased or stayed the same.

"That suggests that any evidence of a retreat from interracial marriages is mostly a reflection of changing marital market opportunities, rather than changes in whom people are willing to marry," Lichter said.

 

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