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Study: more couples “marry out” as acceptance grows

A new PEW study indicates a surge in interracial marriages in Western United States.
A new PEW study indicates a surge in interracial marriages in Western United States.

Marriage may be at a record low in America, but interracial marriage is soaring, according to a Pew study released today. California and the Western states lead the nation in this surge. The study, called “the Rise of Intermarriage,” says that one-fifth of all recent weddings in the western U.S. are between people of different races or ethnicities.

Nationally, 15% of marriages in 2010 crossed racial and ethnic lines, researchers found. This is twice the rate from three decades ago. Since 1980, the number of whites who “marry out” of their race has doubled to 9% and the share of blacks who marry non-blacks has more than tripled to 17%. The highest rates of intermarriage are between Asians and Hispanics, with more than 25% of Asian newlyweds marrying non-Asians.

Researchers say that with each passing year, these changes become more common, but it’s interesting to note that in the past half century, intermarriage has evolved from being illegal and taboo, to merely unusual.


What’s behind this trend and will it last? Why is it most pronounced in the West? If immigration drops, will acceptance of intermarriage follow? Is this coming together good for the country overall or might there be risks in terms of lost cultural identity?


Wendy Wang, Research Associate at the Pew Research Center and Lead Researcher of “The Rise of Intermarriage” study