Support for bans on interracial marriage by sex

By Razib Khan | October 16, 2010 8:07 pm

A quick follow-up to my previous post which points to the data that women tend to be more race-conscious in dating than men. There’s a variable in the GSS which asks if you support a ban on interracial marriage, RACMAR. Here’s the question itself:

Do you think there should be laws against marriages between (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) and whites?

There isn’t much surprising in the results for this variable. It was asked between 1972 and 2002, and support for a ban on interracial marriages dropped over time. Whites, old people, conservatives, and less educated people, tended to support these bans, as well as Southerners. But what about men vs. women? I’ve never actually looked at that. I limited the sample to whites; the number of blacks in the sample is small and wouldn’t alter the result, but I figured I’d control for race anyway. Support for such laws is in the 35-40% range for whites in 1972, before dropping off to 5-15% in 2002.

Here’s the trendline broken down by sex:


There is a small but consistent difference until the last year. The difference is within 95% intervals within a given year of course. But the consistency of the greater female support for interracial marriage bans made me want to perform a logistic regression. I decided to look at the total sample, and also limit it to the 1970s. The pseudo r-square for both is ~0.20. Italics means lack of statistical significance. The other values were all p = 0.000 in the GSS interface.

Full Sample1972-1980

Political Ideology-0.147-0.178
Year of Survey0.0540.041

These results confirm that being female predicts a greater likelihood of supporting laws against interracial marriage. Having more education and being intelligent reduced the probability. Surprisingly year and age don’t matter much when you’re taking other variables into account.

As a final note, let’s compare sex differences on another issue: homosexuality. The HOMOSEX variable asks about “sexual relations between adults of the same sex.” There are four responses:

1 = Always wrong

2 = Almost always wrong

3 = Sometimes wrong

4 = Not wrong at all

Using the GSS I computed the mean value year by year. So if in 1974 50% said homosexual sex was always wrong, and 50% not wrong at all, you’d have a mean value of 2.5. Here is the trendline by year by sex:


As with interracial marriage, there is a small, but consistent, sex difference.  On the margins the sex difference will disappear, so one can think of it as one sex “lagging” the other on social change.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis, GSS, Social Science

Comments (14)

  1. The last graph seemed counterintuitive to me, so I checked to make sure that the number ordering was right and it does seem that you’ve reversed the categories. In the GSS, 1=Always wrong and 4=Not wrong at all.

  2. Does the data for the first graph go up to 2008? If so, I predict a sex reversal (seen around 2000) due to male predilection for extremist groups, as this attitude became fringe during the 90’s.

  3. I predict a sex reversal (seen around 2000) due to male predilection for extremist groups, as this attitude became fringe during the 90’s.

    stops at 2002. i had the same thought btw. most of the people who have avowed vocal anti-miscegenating views seem to be male. but revealed preferences is somewhat different (i recall hearing that there was controversy cuz the sysop of a neo-nazi website was married to an asian woman and had kids by her).

  4. Alex Young

    Aren’t women more religious than men, and wouldn’t this explain a lot of the sex differences in views on homosexuality?

  5. Sorry to be so overly technical, but the question in the homosexuality survey should specify “consensual sexual activity between adults”. Maybe I have seen to many Hollywood depictions of prison life, but even though I have nothing against homosexual behavior, I would have to have answered “sometimes wrong” given that rape was not controlled for in the question.

  6. Chris

    Once you go black, you never go back!

  7. muffy

    Aren’t women more religious than men, and wouldn’t this explain a lot of the sex differences in views on homosexuality?

    And women are more, not less, accepting of homosexuality than men. Generally religiosity in the USA is correlated with more negative views of homosexuality.

    I also agree with Brad that the wording of these questions is poor. I think that people should have sex with people who they are actually attracted to, which, for the majority of the population, would preclude homosexual sex. Does that mean I only think homosexuality is “sometimes” acceptable?

    Also, wasn’t there a very recent poll that showed that the sex gap in approval for homosexuality has disappeared?

  8. fwiw. the “bible” variable does show that religiosity explains much of the diff. but that variable reduces the sample size A LOT because of the limited scope of the intersect with other vars.

  9. Scott

    The increase in the treandline for the homosexuality curve after 1991 is interesting. Any particular major cultural events that would have sparked that increase? I can’t really think of any. It might just be the result of many little events.

  10. I think that the main reason why acceptance of both homosexuality and interracial marriage has gone up these past few decades has been the mass media. Especially opponents of interracial marriage are shouted down on talk shows by both the hosts and the audiences so that many viewers who are also against this lifestyle are pressured into believing that they have something wrong with them or are some terribly evil person. In a free democracy, people should have the right to hold whatever views they think are the most convincing, regardless of whether or not that view is considered politically-correct. And the majority is not always right. There was a time when most people believed in witches.

  11. I believe the first one I am less inclined to me the second one. Women are usually more accepting in general of interracial marriage, gays, etc. That said women do have this insecurity about “all the good men being married or gay” so that could be part of it. I think we need more to know for sure though.

    We recently launched a blog, Racy JC that focuses on dating within different races and cultures (Asian, Black, Indian, Jewish, Latino, among others) and approaches these issues in a new, honest, real, and non-PC way. Please check it out!
    social media: jcdaviesauthor

    And never forget intercultural dating is great and you can do it! Racy JC


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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


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