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Diversity also creates more opportunities for intermarriage for all Americans.
Almost surely, some of the Whites who were not intermarried in 1980 would have been more likely to marry a person from different race or ethnicity had the population been more diverse.
Our “no-demographic change” estimate suggests that intermarriage would have only risen to 6.7% if demographics had not changed – a 1.9% increase, dramatically smaller than the 8.6% increase actually observed.
For example, in 1980, 17% of the young married population was not White.
Today, there are proportionately more Asians, Hispanics and people of other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the United States than ever.
These racial/ethnic groups have always been unusually likely to intermarry.
This next chart displays intermarriage rates across time for the America’s four major racial/ethnic groups for the same period.
The most dramatic change over the last several decades is the number of Blacks intermarrying.
They lived in Virginia, one of the states that still banned “miscegenation” – the derogatory term used to describe interracial coupling – so they needed to travel to the District of Columbia to be officially recognized as a couple.
They were married in “Whiteness.” Although the couple initially pled guilty, they later decided to dispute the law, and took their fight all the way to the Supreme Court.
In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on the side of the couple.
More accepting professed beliefs do not seem to be the main cause of the rise in the number interracial couples.
Yet the rates of intermarriage among different racial/ethnic groups show very different trends.
In 1980, less than 4% of all married Black people under the age of 35 were not married to other black people. But Black people only made up between six to seven percent of the total under 35 married population during this period.