Interracial Marriage and Divorce: The Study

When the topic of interracial dating and marriage is examined, often cited are statistics on the relative frequency of certain marriages, especially compared to others. But what about the durability of these unions? Are interracial marriages more likely to end in divorce than are same-race marriages?

Earlier studies have concluded that, overall, interracial marriages have less duration than same-race marriages. Some of the studies concluded, however, that factors such as educational level (as educational level goes up, the likelihood divorce goes down) and the age at marriage (marriages occurring earlier in life are more likely to end in divorce) had more bearing on the stability of these marriages than the racial differences of the individuals; members of interracial pairings are more likely to have traits correlated with a higher probability of divorce. However, these studies failed to account for gender in connection with the race of each individual in interracial marriages. A recent study published by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) explored this aspect in interracial couples in the United States.

Using data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, the study analyzed almost 6,000 men and women between the ages of 15-44 who had ever been married, over a period of ten years. Their study found that:

  • Marriages involving a black husband and white wife were twice as likely to divorce as marriages involving a white husband and white wife. When adjusted for background aspects such as age at marriage and educational level, differences between black male/white female marriages and white male/white female marriages virtually disappeared in some cases. This suggests that, contrary to prior findings, the higher rate of interracial divorce between black male/white female marriages is not due to background factors.
  • Asian male/white female marriages were 59 percent more likely to end in divorce than white male/white female marriages.
  • Marriages involving a white husband and black wife were substantially less likely to end in divorce than marriages involving a white husband and white wife; the former pairing’s divorce rate was 44 percent less than the latter.
  • Couples composed of a white husband and Asian wife were 4 percent more likely to end in divorce than marriages involving a white husband and white wife.
  • Hispanic white/non-Hispanic white and Asian/white marriages were more liable to divorce than those of in-married Hispanic whites and Asians.
  • Marriages including a black husband and white wife were more prone to divorce than those composed of black husbands and black wives. Black male/white female couples also had the highest likelihood of divorce of all white/non-white marriages.
  • While interracial marriage correlates to a higher rate of divorce, this parallel applies mainly to marriages involving a non-white male and white female.

This study seems to both contradict and confirm popular beliefs about  gender, race and marriage. What do you think of the results? Do you agree or disagree with the findings? What factors could be influencing the striking gender differences in divorce rates of interracial couples?

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