Mixed marriages increasing rapidly

Hispanics and Asians marry outside groups more than blacks, whites

March 23, 2001|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

WASHINGTON - Mixed marriages, once rare in the United States, are surging, due largely to the willingness of Asians and Hispanics to marry outside their racial and ethnic groups.

Nearly 34 years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the last laws prohibiting mixed-race marriages, the once-forbidden unions now total about 1.5 million. That's a tenfold increase over 1960. Adding Hispanics who marry outside their ethnic group brings the total of mixed marriages to 3 million, based on an analysis of recent census survey data.

Only 5 percent of all U.S. marriages are mixed. But the steady growth of mixed marriages is powerful evidence that racial and ethnic barriers are softening.

"In my hopeful moments, I think this will make a very positive difference on society," said Richard Alba, distinguished professor of sociology at the State University of New York, Albany. "Marriage is the final stage of assimilation. And more and more we're seeing boundaries between the races getting smaller and lower."

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