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Interracial Marriage

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Here are quotes from the summary of the new Pew report on interracial marriage in 2008. Note a few things. This is based on the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey of 3 million people, not the decennial enumeration of 100 times that number Plus, note the distinction between newlyweds and married couples: people who get married in 2008 versus people who are married in 2008. So, there could be some sample size issues versus the actual Census. Still, when you start with 3 million people, you can slice and dice pretty far.

Also, 41% of babies born in 2008 were illegitimate, so marriage stats tend to look at what the upper 3/5ths or so of society are doing. Only about 28% of babies born to black women were legitimate and only 49% of babies born to Hispanics were legitimate, so marriage behavior and mating behavior are increasingly disconnected.

Even with that sharp increase, however, black-white couplings represented only about one-in-nine of the approximately 280,000 new interracial or interethnic marriages in 2008.

White-Hispanic couples accounted for about four-in-ten (41%) of such new marriages; white-Asian couples made up 15%; and white-black couples made up 11%.

I.e., “nonwhites” include Hispanics who self-identify as whites. Also, there’s no multi-ethnic category as there is a multi-racial category, so a lot of these Hispanics marrying non-Hispanic whites might be actually half or a quarter Hispanic. So, for example, if blonde actress Cameron Diaz, daughter of an American-born Cuban father and an Old American (English, German, Cherokee) mother who grew up on the beach in Southern California, married, say, ex-boyfriend Matt Dillon, it would, theoretically, count as an “interracial marriage.”

The remaining third consisted of marriages in which each spouse was a member of a different minority group or in which at least one spouse self-identified as being American Indian or of mixed or multiple races.

Of the 3.8 million adults who married in 2008, 9% of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 31% of Asians married someone whose race or ethnicity was different from their own.

For whites these shares are more than double what they had been in 1980 and for blacks they are nearly triple. For Hispanics and Asians, by contrast, these rates are little changed from 1980. High levels of Hispanic and Asian immigration over the past several decades helped drive both seemingly contradictory trends.

For whites and blacks, the new immigrants and (increasingly) their now grown U.S.-born children have enlarged the pool of potential partners for marrying outside one’s own racial or ethnic group. But for Hispanics and Asians, the ongoing immigration wave has greatly enlarged the pool of potential partners for in-group marrying.

Gender: Among blacks and Asians, there are stark differences by gender in the tendency to marry outside their own racial group. Some 22% of all black male newlyweds in 2008 married outside their race, compared with just 9% of black female newlyweds. Among Asians, the gender pattern runs the opposite way. Some 40% of Asian female newlyweds in 2008 married outside their race, compared with just 20% of Asian male newlyweds.
Among whites and Hispanics, by contrast, there are no gender differences in intermarriage rates.

These gender gap ratios for newlyweds are actually less extreme than those seen for married couples in 1990 and 2000.

Correction – That’s looking at black or Asian intermarriage rates with everybody else, when what people are most interested in (and what my 1990s and 2000s articles were about) is black-white or white-Asian intermarriage. My earlier articles looked at white-black and white-Asian rates, not black-all other and Asian-all other.

Plus, that’s just looking at percentages of people who got married, when a big issue is that fewer black women than black men and fewer Asian men than Asian women were getting married to anybody. Pew should give us the raw counts of interracial marriages in 2008 rather than putting everything in percentage terms, which can be misleading and confusing. Unfortunately, they don’t.

Another way to look at this is that white men in 2008 were 3.90 times as likely to marry an Asian woman as a black woman, while white women were only 0.47 times as likely to marry an Asian man as a black man. (See p. 10 of the full report.) That’s a big difference.

I’m tempted to divide 3.90 by 0.47 to come up with 8.33, but 8.33 what? What does 8.33 mean, if anything? One reason the prose style is so polished in my 1997 “Is Love Colorblind?” is that it took me a long time to get to the point that I was confident I was handling the algebra in a humanly meaningful way.

Also, the Asian population has shifted considerably in the direction of South Asians since 1990, who are rather different from East Asians in marital behavior.

About 9% of both male and female white newlyweds in 2008 married a nonwhite spouse and about a quarter of both male and female Hispanic newlyweds in 2008 married someone who is not Hispanic.

States and Regions: Intermarriage in the United States tilts West. About one-in-five (21%) of all newlyweds in Western states married someone of a different race or ethnicity in 2008, compared with 13% in the South and Northeast and 11% in the Midwest. All nine states with out-marriage rates of 20% or more in 2008 are situated west of the Mississippi River: Hawaii (43%); Nevada (28%); Oregon (24%); Oklahoma (23%); California (22%); New Mexico (22%); Colorado (21%); Arizona (21%); and Washington (20%). (See Appendix III for a fifty state table).

Regional out-marriage patterns vary in other ways. For example, blacks who live in the West are three times as likely to out-marry as are blacks who live in the South and twice as likely as blacks in the Northeast or Midwest.

Among Hispanics, by contrast, the highest rate of out-marriage is in the Midwest (41%) reflecting a general tendency for out-marriage rates to be higher among smaller groups.

Blacks who live in places like North Dakota have very high rates of intermarriage with whites: there aren’t many other blacks for them to marry, and many of them got to these kind of states through the military, so they have been preselected for IQ, lawfulness, and have been culturally molded by the military

As for Asians, relatively few live in the South, but those who do are more likely to out-marry (37%) than are those who live in other regions.

The nation’s most populous state, California, presents the following anomaly: in 2008, white (20%) and black (36%) newlyweds were more likely to out-marry than were Hispanics (18%).

That’s what I see every day in California: Latinos with Latinos. This seems especially true for Mexicans, but less true for, say, South Americans. If we assume that LA is test driving the American future, then what we’re likely to see is the whiter shades of Hispanics merging into the white population, but also less and less intermarriage of mestizos as their numbers grow larger.<
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In all other states where data are available for these groups, the reverse was true-Hispanic newlyweds out-married at higher rates than did whites or blacks. (See appendix for states and regional table or click here for an interactive map)

Education: Marrying out is more common among adults who attended college than among those who did not, but these differences are not large. Of all newlyweds in 2008, 15.5% of those who attended college married outside their race or ethnicity, compared with 13.5% of those who completed high school and 11.0% of those who did not complete high school.

Nativity Status: Marrying out is much more common among native-born adults than among immigrants. Native-born Hispanics are more than three times as likely as the foreign born to marry a non-Hispanic.
The disparity among native- and foreign-born Asians is not as great, but it is still significant; native-born Asian-Americans are nearly twice as likely as those who are foreign born to marry a non-Asian.

Here again, there are sharp gender differences. Among Asian men, the native born are nearly four times as likely as the foreign born to marry out. Among Asian women, the native born are only about 50% more likely than the foreign born to marry a non-Asian.

So, the gender gap is much smaller among American-born Asians: 39.5% outmarriage for American-born Asian women versus 30.8% among American-born Asian men. Asian parents are intentionally congregating together it certain communities — e.g, largely abandoning the San Fernando Valley in favor of the San Gabriel Valley. This self-segregation in places like Arcadia has a lot of reasons (e.g., control of the public schools), but it also gives their sons a better chance.

But, it would be interesting to remove South Asians from this figure.
Interestingly, a higher percentage of newlywed couples among people, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44 and 45-49 are interracial than among people 20-24 and 25-29.

This would suggest that fertility is likely a little lower.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Here’s a rather incoherent article from the AP on new interracial marriage statistics from the Census Bureau. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau hasn’t released the numbers yet, as far as I can tell, so we’re stuck with the sneak preview they gave the AP.

Two caveats: first, you need to keep in mind the stock v. flow issue of marriages v. weddings. The Census Bureau typically counts marriages (i.e., two people who are legally married to each other) but not weddings (two people getting legally married to each other). The reality that this article is groping toward is that while the stock of interracial marriages as a percent of all marriages continues to rise as the older married couples, from eras when interracial marriage was very rare, die off, but the percent of new interracial weddings as a percent of all new weddings does not seem to be increasing as fast as before.

Second, in my long experience with Census studies of interracial marriage, going back to my 1997 “Is Love Colorblind?” article in National Review, only data from the decennial enumerations (years ending in a 0) were of sufficient sample size to accurately capture trends in interracial marriage rates. The Census Bureau has been working to improve the sample sizes in their interim studies, but who knows whether this one is good enough?

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON – Melting pot or racial divide? The growth of interracial marriages is slowing among U.S.-born Hispanics and Asians. Still, blacks are substantially more likely than before to marry whites.

The number of interracial marriages in the U.S. has risen 20 percent since 2000 to about 4.5 million, according to the latest census figures. While still growing, that number is a marked drop-off from the 65 percent increase between 1990 and 2000.

About 8 percent of U.S. marriages are mixed-race, up from 7 percent in 2000.

The latest trend belies notions of the U.S. as a post-racial, assimilated society. Demographers cite a steady flow of recent immigration that has given Hispanics and Asians more ethnically similar partners to choose from while creating some social distance from whites due to cultural and language differences.

I wrote a column about exactly this happening in California in 2000: “Continued Immigration Retards Growth of Interracial Marriage.” It’s logically obvious that as minorities become majorities, they have fewer daily interactions with whites and thus are less likely to fall in love with them and marry them.

White wariness toward a rapidly growing U.S. minority population also may be contributing to racial divisions, experts said.

“Racial boundaries are not going to disappear anytime soon,” said Daniel Lichter, a professor of sociology and public policy at Cornell University. He noted the increase in anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as well as current tensions in Arizona over its new immigration law.

“With a white backlash toward immigrant groups, some immigrants are more likely to turn inward to each other for support,” Lichter said.

Yeah, yeah, yeah …

Broken down by race, about 40 percent of U.S.-born Asians now marry whites — a figure unchanged since 1980.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t break out the important gender gap in white-Asian marriages. In 1990, 72% of white-Asian marriages involved a white man and Asian woman, while in 2000, 75% involved a white man and an Asian woman.

Their likelihood of marrying foreign-born Asians, meanwhile, multiplied 3 times for men and 5 times for women, to roughly 20 percent.

One of the things that is going on is that the “Asian” population is becoming less East Asian and more South Asian, where the gender gap is very different. Also, South Asians are more into arranged marriages with somebody from the Old Country than are East Asians.

Among U.S.-born Hispanics, marriages with whites increased modestly from roughly 30 percent to 38 percent over the past three decades. But when it came to marriages with foreign-born Hispanics, the share doubled — to 12.5 percent for men, and 17.1 percent for women.

In Southern California, I just do not see 38% of the couples walking down the street together where at least one person is Latino and the other person is white. I’d say it’s more like 10%. Maybe it’s different in Texas. Maybe interethnic marriage is most common among very white Hispanics, possibly ones who are only 1/2 or 1/4 Hispanic by ancestry, so these couples are not very visible by looks.

Although the Census allows people to identify themselves as being of multiple races, it does not allow them to identify as both Hispanic and non-Hispanic, so people of mixed ethnicities tend to show up in Census stats as solely Hispanic.

Or maybe white-Hispanic marriages are hugely common in working class exurbs in California where I don’t hang out much. I don’t know. But I don’t see white-Latino couples much at, say, the movies in Van Nuys.

In contrast, blacks are now three times as likely to marry whites than in 1980. About 14.4 percent of black men and 6.5 percent of black women are currently in such mixed marriages, due to higher educational attainment, a more racially integrated military and a r
ising black middle class that provides more interaction with other races.

That would suggest the gender gap in black-white marriages has fallen to 2.21 times as many black men married to white women as white men married to black women, from 2.54X in 1990 and 2.65X in 2000. But, we’ll have to see what the sample size is. The decennial enumerations have been far more trustworthy than interim estimates based on a small samples.

… By some estimates, two-thirds of those who checked the single box of “black” on the census form are actually mixed, including President Barack Obama, who identified himself as black in the 2010 census even though his mother was white. 

Census figures also show:

_Hawaii had the highest share of mixed marriages, about 32 percent.

Funny how Mr. Check Only Black Obama was born and raised in Hawaii, which has always been like this.

It was followed by Alaska, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Nevada, which ranged from 15 percent to 19 percent. 

You’ll note that California, the state with the highest percentage of immigrants and with what had been the second most (to Hawaii) liberal attitudes among whites on interracial marriage, doesn’t make the top 5.

The bottom five states were Pennsylvania, Maine, Kentucky, Mississippi and West Virginia, each ranging from 3 percent to 4 percent.

_Mississippi had the fastest growth in mixed marriages from 2000-08, a sign of closer ties between blacks and whites, though it still ranked second to last in overall share of mixed marriages. 

_Mixed marriages jumped from 2.25 million to 3.7 million, or 65 percent, from 1990-2000, as such unions became more broadly accepted in Southern states.

_Among U.S.-born whites, about 0.3 percent married blacks in 1980; that figure rose to about 1 percent in 2008. About 0.3 percent of whites married Asians in 1980 and about 1 percent in 2008. About 2 percent of whites married Hispanics in 1980, rising to about 3.6 percent in 2008.

The figures come from previous censuses as well as the 2008 American Community Survey, which surveys 3 million households. The figures for “white” refer to those whites who are not of Hispanic ethnicity. For purposes of defining interracial marriages, Hispanic is counted as a race.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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John Tierney blogs in the New York Times about a study of “speed-dating” Columbia University:

There’s also a clear gender divide, as the researchers note: “Women of all races exhibit strong same race preferences, while men of no race exhibit a statistically significant same race preference.”

That part about men having no preference sounds a bit like an artifact of doing the study at an Ivy League school where men have to be on their guard for ideological deviancy. Ivy League women, in contrast, would just slough off charges of racism with Ivy League feminist-quality logic: “I can’t be a racist because I’m a feminist!”

Here are the study’s results for women:

African-American women said yes about 30 percent less often to Hispanic men; about 45 percent less often to white men; about 65 percent less often to Asian men.

White women said yes about 30 percent less often to black or Hispanic men, and about 65 percent less often to Asian men.

Hispanic women said yes about 20 percent less often to black or white men, and 50 percent less often to Asian men.

Asian women didn’t discriminate much by race (except for showing a very slight preference for Asian men over black or Hispanic men).

And now you know why the Bitter Asian Men are so bitter.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Here’s a press release about an article in the British Journal of Nutrition entitled “BMI Not an An Accurate Obesity Measurement:

“This [Body-Mass Index] scale was created years ago and is based on Caucasian men and women,” says Bray, “It doesn’t take into account differences in body composition between genders, race/ethnicity groups, and across the lifespan.”

In the current study, … researchers used dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, which is a low dose x-ray known as DXA, to determine percent fat. DXA can be used to estimate bone density, lean mass and fat mass.

When the two results were compared, researchers found that the DXA estimate of percent fat of African American women was 1.76 percent lower for the same BMI compared to non-Hispanic white women. Since BMI is assumed to represent body fatness, an African American woman would not be considered overweight or obese until she reached a higher number than what is indicated by the current BMI standards. The opposite is the case for Hispanic, Asian and Asian-Indian woman. Their percent fat is higher by 1.65 percent, 2.65 percent and 5.98 percent, respectively. So they would be considered overweight or obese at amounts lower than what the BMI standards indicates. The results for men were similar.

“Right now non-Hispanic white women are not considered obese until they have a BMI of 30 or above. Based on our data in young adults, for Hispanic women the number would be around 28,” says Bray. “For African American women the number to cross is around 32.”

Bone mineral content, hydration state, and the density of lean mass found in different ethnic groups are some factors that account for the differences.

I pointed all this out in “Is Love Colorblind” in 1997.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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A couple of years after I wrote about Qian and Lichter’s study here, Annie Gowen reports today in the Washington Post, “More Young Adults Are Seeking Partners of Same Ethnicity:”

But scholars delving into the U.S. Census have found a surprising converse trend. Although interracial marriages overall have increased, the rate of Hispanics and Asians marrying partners of other races declined in the past two decades. This suggests that the growing number of immigrants is having a profound effect on coupling, they say.

The number of native- and foreign-born people marrying outside their race fell from 27 to 20 percent for Hispanics and 42 to 33 percent for Asians from 1990 to 2000, according to Ohio State University sociologist Zhenchao Qian, who co-authored a study on the subject. The downward trend continued through last year, Qian said.

In 2007, I blogged:

Back in 2000, I wrote an article for entitled “Immigration Is Retarding Interracial Marriage.” That’s visible in Southern California, where Asians used to be widely dispersed all over the suburbs, and thus tended to marry the whites around them. Now, however, Asians tend to cluster in the San Gabriel Valley, and you see a higher proportion of Asian-Asian couples than you did a quarter of a century ago. This has implications for assimilation.

Now, a new study of Census data fro 1990 and 2000 confirms that trend:

Immigration played a key role in unprecedented declines in interracial and inter-ethnic marriage in the United States during the 1990s, according to a new sociological study. The findings, published in “Social Boundaries and Marital Assimilation: Interpreting Trends in Racial and Ethnic Intermarriage,” suggest that the growing number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants to the United States has led to more marriages within these groups, and fewer marriages between members of these groups and whites.

“These declines in intermarriages are a significant departure from past trends,” said Zhenchao Qian, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University. “The decline reflects the growth in the immigrant population during the 90s; more native-born Asian Americans and Hispanics are marrying their foreign-born counterparts.”

I imagine that the clustering of Southern California’s Asians in the San Gabriel Valley is motivated in part by Asian parents hoping their children wind up with Asian spouses.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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It’s long been understood theoretically that there must exist a Darwinian fitness trade-off between too much inbreeding and too much outbreeding, but nobody knew where that was. If you marry your first cousin, you are likely to suffer a 30% higher infant mortality rate. But if you marry somebody too genetically dissimilar, you can start running into various reproductive problems as well.

Now, deCODE Genetics of Iceland, who foisted upon the world the most likely fallacious claim that James D. Watson is 25% nonwhite, is claiming that the Darwinian fitness sweetspot is 3rd cousin marriage:

In a paper published today deCODE scientists establish a substantial and consistent positive correlation between the kinship of couples and the number of children and grandchildren they have. The study, which analyzes more than 200 years of deCODE’s comprehensive genalogical data on the population of Iceland, shows that couples related at the level of third cousins have the greatest number of offspring. For example, for women born between 1800 and 1824, those with a mate related at the level of a third cousin had an average of 4.04 children and 9.17 grandchildren, while those related to their mates as eighth cousins or more distantly had 3.34 children and 7.31 grandchildren. For women born in the period 1925-1949 with mates related at the degree of third cousins, the average number of children and grandchildren were 3.27 and 6.64, compared to 2.45 and 4.86 for those with mates who were eighth cousins or more distantly related.

The findings hold for every 25-year interval studied, beginning with those born in the year 1800 up to the present day. Because of the strength and consistency of the association, even between couples with very subtle differences in kinship, the authors conclude that the effect very likely has a biological basis, one which has yet to be elucidated. The paper, ‘An association between the kinship and fertility of human couples,’ is published online in Science magazine at .

deCODE has access to the amazing Icelandic national family tree, in which most Icelanders who ever lived over the last 1000+ years are enrolled. Genealogy is easier in Iceland because there hasn’t been much immigration for the last 1000 years, and because of the surname system: for example, the PR lady who wrote this press release is named Berglind Olafsdottir — i.e., she is “Olaf’s daughter.”

Icelanders are of Scandinavian and Celtic descent.

The odds of genetic problems due to inheriting two deleterious recessive genes falls off pretty fast as you move from first cousin outward. I believe at the third cousin marriage level, it’s only 1/16th as high as at the first cousin marriage level, but don’t quote me when proposing marriage to somebody you met at Great Aunt Meg’s 90th birthday party. Still, I’m not sure how much faith I should put in these findings.

I could imagine some non-biochemical reasons for this, such as that 3rd cousins might have tended to marry at younger ages — in early modern England, as Gregory Clark pointed out in A Farewell to Alms, age of marriage is the main determinant of fertility. Or perhaps healthy people tended to quickly find spouses within their social circles, who tended to be related to them, while sickly people had to wander further afield to find somebody who would marry them.

John Hawks notes an even likelier reason: people who are descended from highly fertile people will have more third cousins to marry. That could be biological or cultural or both.

Some of it could be purely mathematical — the chance of falling in love with your third cousin depends in part on the number of third cousins you have.

And the number of cousins of any type you have is wildly dependent upon typical family size in your family tree. To simplify genealogical calculations, assume that every person in Family Tree A for the last four generations has had only one child, every person in Family Tree B has had exactly two children, and so forth. Here’s what you would face in terms of number of relatives of your own generation:

kids/family Siblings 1st Cousins 2nd Cousins 3rd Cousins
1 0 0 0 0
2 1 4 16 64
3 2 12 72 432
4 2 24 196 1536
5 4 40 400 4000

Thus, if everybody has had exactly one child for the last four generations, you would have no siblings, no cousins, no 2nd cousins, and no 3rd cousins. At your family reunion, you’d be assured of getting a big slice of the pie, but you’d be pretty lonely.

But if your ancestors had have a nice stable two surviving/breeding children per person, then you would have 1 sibling, 4 cousins, 16 2nd cousins, and 64 3rd cousins.

Yet, if your ancestors averaged five children surviving to reproduce, you’d have 4,000 third cousins!

Of course, humans do not breed in an evolutionarily stable manner. We’ve taken over this planet by having more than two children each. So, most people are descended, on average, from people who had more surviving children than the average.

It rural Iceland, if you came from “good stock,” it might have been hard to avoid marrying your third cousin.

Anyway, I haven’t seen the paper yet, so I can’t tell if the the deCODE people have been able to deal with these objections. They certainly have a lot of data to work with.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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