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How Do Americans Feel About Interracial Marriage?

jillianr, Flickr

Just 45 years ago, interracial marriage was banned in many US states. But after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Loving v. Virginia declared such bans unconstitutional in 1967, those couples were free to marry — and a new study finds they’re doing so at an increasing rate.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends project, about 15 percent of new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between people of different races or ethnicities — a rate that’s more than twice the level seen in 1980.

Data analyzed during the same time period showed those unions comprised 8.4 percent of all married couples in the US, compared to 3.2 percent in 1980.

The study found that among all 2010 newlyweds, nine percent of whites married outside their race or ethnicity, as did 17 percent of African-Americans, 26 percent of Hispanics and 28 percent of Asians (a term that also encompasses native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders).

Broken down by region, about one in five people in Western states married someone of a different race or ethnicity between 2008 and 2010, while only 14 percent did so in the South. The Northwest and Midwest saw figures of 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

And while those unions are becoming more common, so too is public acceptance of them. Pew reports that nearly half of Americans believe the increase in interracial marriages is “a change for the better within society,” with only about one in 10 saying it was a change for the worse.


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