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October 16th, 2009
05:14 PM ET

Trends: Interracial Marriage in the United States

Editor's Note: Michael J. Rosenfeld, of the Department of Sociology at Stanford University has done a significant amount of research on family trends and social change in the United States. His book, "The Age of Independence: Interracial Unions, Same-Sex Unions and the Changing American Family," details the increasing number of interracial marriages in the United States.

Rosenfeld uses U.S. census data and in-depth interviews to examine the histories of families and couples.

See some of his findings here:


The increasing percentage of American couples that are interracial.


The decreasing support in the US for laws against interracial marriage.

Michael J. Rosenfeld
Department of Sociology
Stanford University

Until very recently, individual level census data from the past had never been available for scholarly analysis. What we knew about family life in the past came from diaries, from the official records of a few towns and churches, or from travel writers such as Tocqueville.

Now that we have individual level census records from 1850 through 2000, we are able to look into long term trends in family life in a way that inevitably must cast some of our previous assumptions aside. I use the newly available census data to describe the rise of the independent life stage, and the sharp increase in the number of interracial and same-sex unions in recent years.

My analysis of census data offers a new explanation for why the tumult of the industrial revolution failed to produce an increase in nontraditional unions: most families in the industrial revolution moved to cities and factory towns together, so the basic structure of parental supervision over young adults was maintained.

Learn more about Rosenfeld's research here.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Race in America
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Linda B., Ga.

    People, both here in the USA and all over the world, should be allowed to marry whomever they wish, color shouldn't matter.

    I read a article where this JOP in Louisiana refused to marry an interracial couple. That person should be drummed out of his position. He should be ashamed of himself.

    October 16, 2009 at 4:24 pm |