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Keywords:

  • Black marriages;
  • intermarriage;
  • sex ratios

Recent declines in the rate of marriage among Black women have been accompanied by substantial increases in rates of interracial marriage, especially between Black men and non-Black women. Explanations for the retreat from marriage among Black women have focused on deficits in the quantity and quality of available partners, and the role of racial intermarriage largely has been ignored. This study examines the impact of interracial marriage by Black men on the marriage prospects of Black women. First, our analysis of data from the 1990 Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) reveals that intermarried Black men are selective of those with the highest levels of education, income, and occupational prestige. Second, multilevel analyses, using both the IPUMS and Panel Study of Income Dynamics, show that the level of intermarriage in metropolitan areas is significantly related to the marital behaviors of Black women. Local rates of intermarriage among Black men reduce the likelihood that Black women currently will be married and that they will make the transition to marriage. These effects are especially acute for highly educated Black women whose marriage markets are defined by those Black men who are most likely to intermarry. Finally, our analyses indicate that intermarriage affects the marital prospects of Black women by negatively affecting the pool of economically attractive marriage partners in the metropolitan area.