WASHINGTON — More and more Americans are marrying people of different races and ethnicities, reaching at least 1 in 6 newlyweds in 2015, the highest proportion in American history, a new study released Thursday showed.
Currently, there are 11 million people — or 1 out of 10 married people — in the United States with a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
This is a big jump from 50 years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled interracial marriage was legal throughout the United States. That year, only 3 percent of newlyweds were intermarried — which means they had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. In 2015, 17 percent of newlyweds were intermarried, a number which had held steady from the year before.
"There's much greater racial tolerance in the United States, with attitudes having changed in a way where it's much more positive toward interracial marriage," said Daniel T. Lichter, director of the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell University, who studies interracial and interethnic marriages. "But I think that a greater reason is the growing diversity of the population. There are just more demographic opportunities for people to marry someone of another race or ethnicity."
Asians were most likely to intermarry in 2015, with 29 percent of newlywed Asians married to someone of a different race or ethnicity, followed by Hispanics at 27 percent, blacks at 18 percent and whites at 11 percent.
There also were differences between men and women.
Asian and Hispanic women were the most likely to marry someone of a different race or ethnicity in 2015, while Hispanic and black men were the most likely among men, the data showed. Thirty-six percent of Asian women and 28 percent of Hispanic women intermarried in 2015, while 26 percent of Hispanic men and 24 percent of black men married someone of a different race or ethnicity.
Interracial marriage became legal throughout the United States in 1967 when Richard and Mildred Loving took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Lovings were thrown into a Virginia jail in 1958 for violating the state's ban on interracial marriage. The Supreme Court struck down the Virginia law and those in roughly one-third of the states in 1967.