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1 in 6 newlyweds' spouse is of different race or ethnicity

19 May 2017

It's been 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that anti-miscegenation - Jim Crow-era laws banning interracial marriages - was unconstitutional.

That's a finding from a new report from the Pew Research Center looking at the state of interracial marriage today.

Intermarriage is increasingly common in part due to changing attitudes concerning race, and in part to the growing share of Asian-American and Hispanic people in the United States.

More than a quarter of Asian newlyweds (29 percent) and Latino newlyweds (27 percent) are married to a spouse of a different race or ethnicity.

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But among Asian newlyweds, those with some college experience (39 percent) are more likely to marry someone of a different race or ethnicity than those with a bachelor's degree or higher (29 percent) or with a high school diploma or less (26 percent). In 2015, 18 percent of new marriages in metropolitan areas were interracial, compared with 11 percent of newlyweds outside of metropolitan areas. The rate for black newlyweds has more than tripled since 1980 - from 5 percent to 18 percent. Eighteen percent of newlyweds in metropolitan areas were intermarried compared with 11 percent living elsewhere.

A new study says that 1 in 6 people who married in 2015 Wednesday someone of a difference race or ethnicity, the highest proportion in American history. Rates have steadily increased since 1967, when the Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia ruling barred states from outlawing interracial marriage. Those rates go up even higher for those born in the US - to 46 percent for Asian newlyweds and 39 percent for Hispanic newlyweds. In Honolulu, the "marriage market" of unmarried and recently married adults in Honolulu comprises 42 percent Asians, 20 percent non-Hispanic whites, and 9 percent Hispanics.

The number of new marriages across racial or ethnic lines varies widely across USA metropolitan areas. Thirty-eight percent of those in suburban areas say the same. Mildred Loving, a black woman, and her white partner, Richard Loving, helped topple anti-miscegenation in Virginia and across the nation, after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against race-based restriction in state marriage laws.

The figures released Thursday come from a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

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Asian and Hispanic women were the most likely to marry someone of a different race or ethnicity in 2015, while Hispanic and black men were the most likely among men, the data showed.

- Interracial and interethnic marriages are more likely to happen in cities. Most Republicans (60 percent) say the rise of interracial marriages doesn't make much of a difference.

Despite those numbers, intermarriage is rapidly becoming more popular among blacks and whites. "I can't know for sure what explains that, but we do know that acceptance of intermarriage does tend to be lower in the South and in the Midwest, and I suspect that might be playing a role there".

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1 in 6 newlyweds' spouse is of different race or ethnicity