Most of the data out there on interracial relationships doesn't come from online dating sites, but it's high time more of it did, because the results are fascinating.
The online dating website OkCupid's dating-trends research component, OkTrends, posted a dizzying set of graphics with analysis the other day illustrating how, in spite of new census data telling us that the United States is becoming more diverse, there is still no such thing as a post-racial America in the selective world of online dating.
According to the post, the dating service analyzed 82 million messages sent in recent months, running the numbers in different ways. On its face, the result showed white dating-service users receiving more messages per capita than non-whites, even from non-white users. But OkCupid, the majority of whose users are white, did an interesting experiment, redoing the math on the hypothetical assumption that white users weren't the dominant majority.
What if, for example, there were just as many Asian users on the site? What OkCupid found:
Our experiment tells us that, given equal numbers, Asians would actually overwhelming prefer to message other Asians.
And so forth, for every ethnic group. OkCupid's Christian Rudder wrote in the post:
...I think there's an assumption that at some point all the races will just kind of come together as one, like during Michael Jackson's "Black Or White" video or like during a lawsuit against the estate of Michael Jackson.
The data we're seeing, however, just doesn't support a post-racial future, because even as the races mingle more, people still like to date someone who looks like they do. Asians strongly prefer Asians; Latinos, Latinos, and so on.
The OkCupid data has points in common with the results of a recent study done by UC Berkeley in collaboration with a different dating service, which analyzed data from a million singles looking for matches online.
That data showed that whites overwhelmingly prefer to date whites. However, black online dating-service users, especially men, were more open to dating people of other racial backgrounds. From that report:
The reluctance of whites to contact blacks was true even for those who claimed they were indifferent to race. More than 80 percent of the whites contacted whites and fewer than 5 percent of them contacted blacks, a disparity that held for young as well as for older participants.
At the same time, data from the Pew Research Center shows that one in seven new marriages is between people of different ethnicities, as reported in a recent package in the New York Times on the evolution of a more multiracial population.
The story had a nifty graphic on who is marrying whom. Chances are, though, they aren't all meeting online.