Gap in attitudes toward interracial marriage gone

By Razib Khan | February 1, 2010 6:54 pm

Pew has a new report out, Almost All Millennials Accept Interracial Dating and Marriage. Pretty straightforward. But one thing that I found interesting, if not surprising, was that the gap in black-white attitudes had basically disappeared over the generations. I made a chart to illustrate this:
In fact, in more recent generations whites seem somewhat more accepting of interracial marriage within the family than blacks. I suspect that the black-white gap for Millennials and Gen-Xers is within the margin of error, but it’s suggestive that the gap grew from the latter to the former.
1480-3 (1).gifAlso, Pew has been tracking attitudes by generation for 20 years, and all have become more tolerant of intermarriage. But what’s up with the change around 1990? I don’t see it noted within the Pew analysis, so I wonder if they reworded the question and massaged the responses inadvertently, and don’t want to revisit that error.
Finally, I think it is important to remember that though most young people tolerate interracial relationships and marriages, there are very strong same-race preferences on an individual level in regards to choices. This is probably important to keep in mind if you’re an ethnic minority and looking to use a dating service or site, especially if you’re a male, as women tend to be pickier on these sites than men already. There is a disjunction between broad public acceptance in the abstract for mixed-marriage and dating, and concrete preferences for someone that matches one’s own phenotype personally (not to mention realities such as residential, social and cultural segregation which are strongly correlated with race). I think that explains the whiteness of The Bachelor & The Bachelorette reality dating shows, which ostensibly end in a marriage proposal. If the bachelor and bachelorette exhibited normal American preferences their immediate elimination of individuals who were of other races would be evident, and probably embarrass everyone involved.
H/T Inductivist


Comments (7)

  1. A related issue that may be that a lot of the people getting married still need to keep the older generations happy. So even if a Gen-Xer or Millennial is fine with interracial marriage, if they have important older relatives (parents especially) who are not happy with intermarriage, the young individuals may be less inclined to date people outside their own racial groups, since they need to worry about potentially negative family responses.

  2. “If the bachelor and bachelorette exhibited normal American preferences their immediate elimination of individuals who were of other races would be evident, and probably embarrass everyone involved.”
    I once saw an Australian dating show in which one blonde woman had to pick 3 guys from a bunch of about 20 guys, who were almost entirely white. She walked down the line of them, eliminating each one with comments like, “He’s not tall enough,” or “Don’t like his hairstyle,” or “Don’t care for his shirt.” Upon reaching the sixth guy, who was South Asian, she simply said, “Not today, sorry.”

  3. George

    Action speaks louder than the words. We shall find out in about a decade!

  4. trajan23

    you have to love a pundit who can classify Mary Delgado as non-White.I guess a Spanish surname trumps physiognomy.

  5. People will often say that they have no problems with interracial marriage because they know it is politically incorrect to say otherwise. In today’s society, lying is often more socially acceptable than being honest about such matters.

  6. kdogg

    hey eurasian sensation i think you are lying through your teeth, i have been to australia, and australia is very accepting of interracial dating, just because some dating show had some lady who says that about that asian guy it probably was not at all due to his race but his clothes or appearance, etc.

  7. @ kdogg: who are you to say I’m lying through my teeth? I’m relating something I saw, exactly how it happened. It may have meant nothing, but I thought it was interesting.
    You’ve visited Australia? Congratulations. I live there, but I’m sure you know more about it than I do.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar