Interracial Marriage Rises to All-Time High

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White and Asian couples are the most common pairing of interracial marriages in D.C.

The share of marriages that were interracial reached an all-time high in 2010. A Pew Research Center study released Thursday found that 8.4 percent of married couples were interracial or inter-ethnic, a record number, and 15.1 percent of people who got married in 2010 did so across racial lines.

But the trends aren’t the same for every racial group. Whites were the least likely to marry someone of another race in 2010, while Asians were the most likely to.

The Pew study also found that more than four-in-10 Americans say the rise in interracial marriages has been a good change in society. We’ve previously explored how tolerant D.C. is of interracial couples, and a number of you shared your experiences, both positive and negative. Almost 20 percent of new marriages from 2008 to 2010 in D.C. were interracial. White-black couples are the least prevalent of interracial marriages in D.C., while the District ranks as the “state” with the second highest percentage of white-Asian marriages  (Hawaii ranks first).

Here’s the breakdown for D.C.’s newly-wed couples between 2008 and 2010:

  • Anonymous

    I would really like to see a study that calculates the hypothetical rates of
    intermarriage for various ethnicities if everyone married without regard to race,
    and then compares that with the actual rates of intermarriage — the
    math is harder, but I think it would be a better way to measure differences among groups.

    Of course there are plenty of social factors (racism among them) determining these rates,
    but I think it would be easier to tease out their influence if we could
    try to control for the demographic factor. Until U.S. demographics shift dramatically, whites will always be the least likely group to marry outside their ethnicity,
    and Asians the most, simply because whites are the largest major ethnic group and Asians the smallest. (Suppose every
    white person who could married an Asian person: Even with 100% “marriage out” among Asians, you’d still have 90% “marriage in” among whites; the population discrepancy is just that great.)

    When you consider demographics, the low numbers of white-black couples locally seems especially significant — if demographics alone were driving these rates (which obviously is not the case! but just as a point of comparison), the rate of intermarriage between black and white people in the DC area would be much higher.

  • Elahe Izadi

    Thanks for putting this piece into perspective, that the low rate of whites marrying outside their race is partially a reflection of them being the largest racial group in the U.S. And yes, the very low numbers of white-black couples in D.C. does stand out to me as well, given the city’s demographics.

  • kerry_k

    According to the 2010 U.S. Census, “In Hawaii, Asians made up the highest proportion of the total population (57 percent).”

    So the intermarriage rate is high for Asians in America, whether they are in the majority or in the minority.