That’s amounts to 4.8 million couples, more than double the number in 1980, according to the Pew Research Center study of census data.
In addition, Pew surveyed 2,003 adults in September and found more tolerance: 43% agree that “more people of different races marrying each other has been a change for the better in our society.” Another 44% say it made no difference; 11% say it’s been a change for the worse.
But questions about race make people cautious, says sociologist Daniel Lichter of Cornell University interviewed by USA Today. “People don’t want to reveal negative attitudes that might reflect badly on them, and they tend to tell interviewers what they want to hear,” says Lichter, whose data analysis last year found similar trends in interracial marriage.
The New York Times wrote that when viewed in aggregate, interracially married newlyweds seem similar to all newlyweds. But when the pairings are broken down by sex and race, distinct patterns emerge.
White-Asian couples have the highest earning power, surpassing white-white couples and Asian-Asian couples in median income. And among Hispanics and blacks, those who marry outside their race are more likely to have college degrees. There are gender disparities as well: black men marry outside the race at a far higher rate than black women. But the opposite is true of Asians: women marry outside the race at a higher rate than men.
States including Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and California, were among the most likely to have couples who “marry out” — more than 1 in 5 — according to the Associated Press. The figure reflected the higher concentrations of Asian and Hispanic immigrants.
Daniel Lichter, a sociology professor at Cornell University told the AP that the results indicated improved race relations in America, while mixed-race marriages and the children they produced were blurring “America’s color line.”
“Mixed-race children have blurred America’s color line. They often interact with others on either side of the racial divide and frequently serve as brokers between friends and family members of different racial backgrounds.”