Monday, November 7, 2005

Increase in Interracial Relationships

"Interracial relationships and marriages are becoming more common in the United States, according to a new Cornell University study. The number of interracial marriages involving whites, blacks and Hispanics each year in the United States has jumped tenfold since the 1960s, but the older individuals are, the less likely they are to partner with someone of a different race, finds the new study. . . ."We think that’s because relationships are more likely to be interracial the more recently they were formed, so younger people are more likely to have interracial relationships. This trend reflects the increasing acceptance of interracial relationships in today’s society," said Kara Joyner, assistant professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell and co-author of a study on interracial relationships in a recent issue of the American Sociological Review (Vol. 70:4).

Although more young adults are dating and cohabiting with someone of a different race, the study found that interracial relationships are considerably less likely than same-race relationships to lead to marriage, though this trend has weakened in recent years. To explore the changing patterns of interracial sexual relationships during the transition to adulthood, Joyner and her co-author, Grace Kao, associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the National Health and Social Life Survey, some of the first nationally representative surveys to collect information on sexual relationships. "Studying trends in interracial sexual relationships is important because intimate relationships between different racial groups are viewed as an indicator of the social and geographic distance between racial groups, and a barometer of race relations," said Joyner. Unlike other studies, which typically look at marriage or cohabitation and sometimes at current dating relationships, this study looked at trends in these relationships over a 10-year period.

The researchers found that among 18- to 25-year-olds in 1990 and in 2000, interracial sexual involvement became increasingly common, with the greatest increase seen in cohabitating relationships, followed by dating relationships and then marriages. Yet, interracial relationships declined with age within these two periods. In 1990, for example, about 14 percent of 18- to 19-year-olds, 12 percent of 20- to 21-year-olds and 7 percent of 34- to 35-year-olds were involved in interracial relationships. Roughly 10 years later, 20 percent of 18- to 19-year-olds and 16 percent of 24- to 25-year-olds were in an interracial relationship. (Information on 34- to 35-year-olds was not available for this period.) By By Susan S. Lang.  Cornell University. Link to Article (last visited 11-6-05 NVS)

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