But demographic changes likely account for more than this 3.5% increase.
It’s not just that the United State’s increasing diversity means there are more Asians, Hispanics, and Other individuals who choose to intermarry.
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.
If White people were marrying without regard for race, we’d expect 17% of them to intermarry.
In actuality, though, only 2.7% of White people intermarried.
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.
At that time, less than 50% of Americans thought interracial dating was acceptable. Our examination of the data suggests that the increasing rate of intermarriage may be driven by demographic changes more than changing attitudes.
Thus, White people were roughly six times more likely than random to marry another White person.
By 2014, however, Whites were only four times more likely than random to marry another White person.
Hispanics, Asians, and people who the Census classifies as being of “Other” racial/ethnic backgrounds only made up about 10% of the population in 1980, but today they make up about 29%.
The nearly 20% increase of populations that were already intermarrying at higher rates explains a large portion of the rise in intermarriage.
In the chart below, the blue trend line is our estimate of the rate of intermarriage if the demographics of the young married population had not changed since 1980 – the orange line shows the actual increase.