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More interracial couples cohabiting, but marriage less common, Census says

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3 2013 7:40 p.m. MDT

The number of Americans who cohabit or marry someone of a different race or ethnicity doubled in 2012, compared to 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

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The number of Americans who cohabit or marry someone of a different race or ethnicity more than doubled in 2012, compared to 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. But those racially diverse couples are more likely to live together than to marry, the Census said.

Just under 1 in 10 unmarried couples who lived together came from different races or ethnicity, while among married couples the number was 4 percent. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, that's the same gap when it comes to Latinos living with or marrying people who are not also Latino. The Census Bureau does not consider Hispanic heritage a race.

The article offered thoughts on why more biracial couples live together, compared with the number that marry.

"Earlier stories have shown that even among younger couples, Americans are more likely to cross racial lines when they move in together than when they marry," wrote the L.A. Times' Emily Alpert. "Scholars are still puzzling over why, musing that interracial couples may face added barriers to marrying — or may be less impatient to do so."

Some researchers believe challenges gaining acceptance from kin and friends may be the root of the difference, Alpert wrote. "Marriage can bring family into the picture — and stir up their disapproval — in ways that rooming together does not."

In June, several columnists explored aspects of interracial relationships in a New York Times "Room for Debate" titled "Is Interracial Marriage Still Scandalous?" It noted that nearly 50 years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court validated the marriage of Richard and Mildred Loving, making marriages that crossed race lines legal nationwide.

In the mix of essays, actress Diana Farr wrote that parents pass their prejudices on to their children and they can end prejudice by not doing so. She is white, of European descent, while her husband was born in South Korea. Neither family was thrilled, initially, but both sets of parents came around, she said.

In his essay, Gary B. Nash, a history professor at University of California Los Angeles, wrote: "Part of the opposition to racial mixing is generational, just residue. Gallup has found that 95 percent of people 18 to 29 approve of interracial dating, compared with less than half of those 65 and older. If this trend continues, the hardest-line opposition to interracial marriage will wither away as elderly Americans pass on. But the line will not disappear. Income and wealth inequality, the enemies of true color-blindness, will silently maintain the racial boundaries that have afflicted American society for generations."

EMAIL: lois@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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