Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mixed-race babies on the increase as America moves towards multi-hued future


AMERICA continues its march towards becoming a racially-mixed country. For white supremacists and racial purists, that is worrisome news.


Two reports from the Pew Research Center show that one in six newlyweds (17%) were marrying someone from a different race or ethnicity and -- it stands to reason -- that in another study one-in-seven U.S. infants (14%) were multiracial or multiethnic in 2015, nearly triple the share in 1980.

It might be expected that cities like Honolulu, Stockton, New York City and San Francisco to be among the most welcoming of interracial marriages and mixed-race children, but surprisingly, some cities in the deep south also exhibited the same trends.


The two studies base their conclusions on U.S. Census Bureau data up to 2015. Both trends in racial intermarriages and mixed-race births are likely spurred in part by the growing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S.



2015's 17% intermarriage rate represents a more than fivefold increase from 3% in 1967, the year in which the Supreme Court ruled in the Loving v. Virginia decision that interracial marriages were legal.

While intermarriage is generally more common in metropolitan areas than in more rural non-metro areas (18% of newlyweds vs. 11%), there is tremendous variation within metro areas in the shares of newlyweds who have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity.


Honolulu has by far the highest share of intermarried newlyweds of any metro area analyzed – 42% of newlyweds living in and around that city were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity. The same is true of about three-in-ten newlyweds living near Las Vegas or Santa Barbara, California. 

These areas are all relatively diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, and this diversity likely contributes to the high intermarriage rates by creating a diverse pool of potential spouses.

In Honolulu, for instance, the “marriage market” (which is defined as all unmarried and recently married adults, and serves as a proxy for the recent pool of potential partners in the area) is made up of 42% Asians, 20% non-Hispanic whites and 9% Hispanics.

In the Las Vegas area, 46% of people in the marriage market are non-Hispanic white, while 27% are Hispanic, 14% are non-Hispanic black and 9% are Asian; and around Santa Barbara, 52% of people in the marriage market are non-Hispanic white and 37% are Hispanic.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the area around Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida, have high intermarriage rates as well. These areas are characterized by less diversity than their Western counterparts. However, the fact that both are located near military bases likely contributes to the high rates of intermarriage, since intermarriage is typically more common among people in the military than among civilians.


One factor that contributes to the low intermarriage rates in some areas (mainly in the Deep South) despite their diverse population may be the lower acceptance of interracial marriage. Some 13% of adults in the South say that more interracial marriage is a bad thing for society, and 11% of those living in the Midwest, where Youngstown is located, say the same. 

By comparison, smaller shares in the West (4%) and the Northeast (5%) say that more interracial marriage is a bad thing for society.

Among all multiracial and multiethnic infants living with two parents, by far the largest portion have one parent who is Hispanic and one who is non-Hispanic white (42%). The next largest share of these infants (22%) have at least one parent who identifies as multiracial, while 14% have one parent who is non-Hispanic white and another who is Asian.

The share of infants in two-parent homes who have parents of different races or ethnicities varies dramatically across states. For example, 44% of infants in Hawaii are multiracial or multiethnic. Shares are also high in Oklahoma and Alaska (28%). At the same time, just 4% of children younger than 1 in Vermont are multiracial or multiethnic, as are 6% of those in North Dakota, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia.

One-in-seven U.S. infants (14%) were multiracial or multiethnic in 2015, nearly triple the share in 1980, according to the Pew analysis.

The general public seems mostly accepting of the trend toward more children having parents of different races. In a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 22% of U.S. adults said more children with parents of different races was a good thing for society, while half as many (11%) thought it was a bad thing. The majority (65%) thought that this trend didn’t make much of a difference.

Among all multiracial and multiethnic infants living with two parents, by far the largest portion have one parent who is Hispanic and one who is non-Hispanic white (42%). The
next largest share of these infants (22%) have at least one parent who identifies as multiracial, while 14% have one parent who is non-Hispanic white and another who is Asian.

The share of infants in two-parent homes who have parents of different races or ethnicities varies dramatically across states. For example, 44% of infants in Hawaii are multiracial or multiethnic. Shares are also high in Oklahoma and Alaska (28%). At the same time, just 4% of children younger than 1 in Vermont are multiracial or multiethnic, as are 6% of those in North Dakota, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia.


If the changing demographics make makes the racial purists squirm and make them think about moving to New Zealand or Australia, a third Pew study released June 8.

If cohabitating is a prelude to marriage, the figures for interracial marriages should increase in the near future as young adults, who express more tolerance towards living and working with people of different races.

Among cohabiting U.S. adults – those living with an unmarried partner – Millennials and members of Generation X are particularly likely to have a live-in partner of a different race or ethnicity: Roughly one-in-five in each group do. The rates are significantly lower among cohabiting Baby Boomers (13%) and members of the Silent Generation (9%).

For Asians who co-habitate, almost half (46%) are living with a partner of a different race or ethnicity. This is far higher than the share of Asian newlyweds who are intermarried (29%). One factor that might partially explain this difference is that a larger share of Asian cohabiters (39%) than Asian newlyweds (25%) were born in the U.S., and U.S.-born Asians are more likely than those who are foreign born to have a spouse or partner of a different race or ethnicity. (Among Asian immigrants who cohabit, 38% have partners of a different race or ethnicity compared with 59% of Asian cohabiters who are U.S. born.)

Of the major racial and ethnic groups, white adults who are in a cohabiting relationship are the least likely to be living with a partner of a different race or ethnicity (12%). This share rises to 20% among black cohabiters and 24% among Hispanic cohabiters. These rates are very similar to intermarriage rates among white (11%), black (18%) and Hispanic (27%) newlyweds.

Like their newlywed counterparts, cohabiters with more education are somewhat more likely to have a significant other of a different race or ethnicity. While 14% of those ages 25 or older with a high school diploma or less are living with a partner of a different race or ethnicity, the share rises to 20% among those with at least some college experience. Among newlyweds, 14% with a high school diploma or less are intermarried, as are 18% of those with some college and 19% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more.

###