One prime reason is that the population is becoming increasingly diverse—culturally, ethnically, and racially.
Americans reaching marriage age over the next two decades are probably the most racially diverse generation ever, and it will be surprising if they do not intermarry more often than previous generations. In addition, more Americans have personal experience with intermarriages involving their families, friends, and work colleagues, which lends a normalcy to these unions.
And, as sociologist Dan Lichter points out, the biggest increase appears to be within minority groups. Interestingly, although younger people were more accepting of intermarriage, the Pew report found little difference in actual intermarriage rates by age—newlyweds age 50 or older were about as likely to marry out as younger newlyweds.
Only 11 percent of 2008 intermarriages were between black and white Americans, reflecting the persistent cultural resistance against relationships between these races.
About one-quarter of Hispanic men and women married non-Hispanics in 2008.
But the Pew report already documented a recent uptick in intermarriage among Hispanics and Asians, as immigration has slowed and the proportion of Hispanics and Asians who were born in the United States has grown.
Most common were marriages between a white and a Hispanic (41 percent), followed by marriage between a white and an Asian American (15 percent).
This percentage will only increase for Americans of all races and ethnic groups—especially as the children of these marriages grow up—further expanding the definition of "acceptable" dates and spouses, and likely accelerating the trend toward intermarriage.Because of immigration from Asia in recent decades, Asians' pool of potential spouses has been expanding, which researchers say has reduced the likelihood of intermarriage.This demographic change has other effects: Foreign-born Asians are less likely to marry out than U.For whites, men and women are about as likely to marry a Hispanic, but differ in their rates of marriage to blacks and Asians (see Figure 2).In general, marriages between blacks and whites overwhelmingly involve a white wife and a black husband, just as the Dunham/Obama marriage did in 1961.Hispanic men and women are about as likely to marry outside their ethnic group, and they tend to marry non-Hispanic whites more than other groups.