Why Have Interracial Marriages Shot Up Since 1997?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Alex Tabarrok pointed today to a paper that caught my eye. In it, the authors offer an explanation for why interracial marriages, which had been increasing at a steady rate for decades, suddenly accelerated in the mid-90s. Their answer: the rise of online dating played a big role.

The reasons for this are a little complicated, and you can read the paper if you’re interested. However, here’s the basic chart that motivates the analysis. It shows the percentage of interracial marriages among newlyweds:

This is interesting, and I don’t really have any special reason to doubt the online-dating hypothesis. But there’s an odd thing: the trendline accelerates first in the mid-90s, and then accelerates again around 2007. (The red line is my eyeball trendline.) So does that mean online dating also accelerated in 2007? It turns out the answer is no:

At the very moment that online dating plateaued among hetero couples, the growth rate of interracial marriages took a big jump, from 0.35 percent per year to 0.58 percent per year. This doesn’t fit the online-dating model.

So either it’s wrong or it’s incomplete. If it’s incomplete, it means something happened around 2007 in addition to online dating that caused a big jump in the number of interracial marriages. What do you suppose it could be? An Obama effect? A Facebook effect? Something else?

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate