Changing Patterns of Interracial Marriage in a Multiracial Society


  • Departments of Policy Analysis and Management and Sociology, 249 MVR Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

  • This article was edited by Jay Teachman.

Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, 238 Townshend Hall, 1885 Neil Avenue Mall, Columbus, OH 43210 (


We use incidence data from the 1980 Census and 2008 American Community Survey to track recent trends in interracial marriage. Intermarriage with Whites increased rapidly among Blacks but stalled among Asians and American Indians. Black–White intermarriage increased threefold over 1980–2008, independent of changing socioeconomic status, suggesting declining social distance between Blacks and Whites. Marriages between the U.S.- and foreign-born populations also grew rapidly. Marriages to immigrants increased fivefold among U.S.-born Asian women and doubled among U.S.-born Latinas since 1980. Out-marriage to Whites also was higher among self-identified biracial than monoracial individuals, but these differences were smallest among Blacks. Interracial couples were overrepresented among cohabiting couples. Finally, log-linear models provide evidence of growing racial exogamy, but only after adjusting for changing demographic opportunities for intermarriage. Marriages between U.S.- and foreign-born coethnics have been driven by new immigration while slowing the upward trajectory of interracial marriage in America.