For Blacks, Unlike Other Minorities, Education Plays No Role in Likelihood of Interracial Marriage

A study published in this month’s edition of the American Sociological Review finds a large decline in interracial marriages among some ethnic groups. But not so for African Americans. In addition, the study found that interracial marriages vary to a great degree depending on level of education.

Authors Daniel Lichter of Cornell University and Zhenchao Qian of Ohio State University found that fewer Hispanics and Asian Americans are marrying people from different ethnic groups than was the case in the 1990s. The authors believe that increasing populations of Asian and Hispanic immigrants have resulted in more opportunities for intraracial marriages and therefore people in these groups have been less likely to look for partners with a different ethnic background.

The study concluded that African Americans are far less likely than Asians or Hispanics to be involved in interracial marriages. But unlike Asians and Hispanics, interracial marriages have not decreased for blacks in recent years. About 15 percent of black men who marry choose a spouse of a different race or ethnic background. This is up from 8 percent in 1990. Today, more than a third of Hispanic men and half of Asian-American men who marry have spouses from a different racial or ethnic group. The rate of interracial marriage for both Hispanic and Asian-American men has decreased by about five percentage points since 1990.

The authors also found that rates for interracial marriage for Asians and Hispanics tended to rise as they moved up the educational ladder. For example, Hispanic women with a college education were three times more likely to be involved in an interracial marriage than a Hispanic woman who did not finish high school. But for blacks the rates of interracial marriage remain relatively constant across all levels of education.