New-ish data from the Pew Research Center suggests that inter-racial and -ethnic marriages are on the rise due to cohort changes. First, the report shows that people who were newly married in 2008 were more likely to be married to someone of a different racial or ethnic group:
This trend is likely facilitated by greater acceptance of intermarriage. According to the report, in 1987 less than half of Americans said it was okay for White and Black people to date each other, by 2009 that number had risen to 83%. Among 18- to 32-year-olds, 93% approve.
Among Pew’s respondents, 63% said that they approved of inter-racial and -ethnic marriages without reservation and another 17% said that they approved of at least one type of intermarriage, but not others. Still, overall acceptance of intermarriage still aligns with the familiar racial hierarchy in that Americans are more comfortable with outmarriages to Whites, than to Asians, Hispanics, and especially Blacks.
Acceptance of inter-racial and -ethnic marriage is on the rise, then, in part because younger people are more accepting of it than older people. Acceptance, however, still reflects a color-based racial hierarchy.Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.