Racial and Ethnic Diversity, Immigration, and Changing Interracial Marriage, 1980-2008

Zhenchao Qian, Ohio State University
Daniel T. Lichter, Cornell University

Past research shows that interracial marriage has been increasing but the pace of increase slowed down in the 1990s, especially for Hispanics and Asian Americans. Most of the studies focus on married couples and neglect the role marriage market conditions may play in interracial marriage. First, we use data from 1980 to 2000 decennial censuses and the 2005-2008 American Community Survey to update the trends in interracial marriage. We show how changes in racial/ethnic composition, immigration, and educational expansion have contributed to changing patterns of interracial marriage in U.S. metropolitan areas. Second, we take advantage of newly released 2008 ACS data, which include age at first marriage, and can be compared with similar data from the 1980 census. Unlike recent studies of intact marriages, these data allow us to identify never married individuals “at risk” of marriage and to estimate changing probabilities of interracial marriage since 1980 across different population groups.

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Presented in Session 82: Assortative Mating