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Marital Instability Among Interracial and Same-Race Couples

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“But Will It Last?”: Marital Instability Among Interracial and Same-Race Couples†
  1. Jenifer L. Bratter*,
  2. Rosalind B. King*
Article first published online: 31 MAR 2008
DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2008.00491.x
© 2008 by the National Council on Family Relations
Issue

Family Relations
Volume 57, Issue 2, pages 160–171, April 2008

Abstract: The literature on interracial families has examined social stigmas attached to interracial relationships but has not thoroughly documented whether crossing racial boundaries increases the risk of divorce. Using the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (Cycle VI), we compare the likelihood of divorce for interracial couples to that of same-race couples. Comparisons across marriage cohorts reveal that, overall, interracial couples have higher rates of divorce, particularly for those marrying during the late-1980s. We also find race and gender variation. Compared to White/White couples, White female/Black male, and White female/Asian male marriages were more prone to divorce; meanwhile, those involving non-White females and White males and Hispanics and non-Hispanic persons had similar or lower risks of divorce.
Recent increases in the rate of interracial marriage point to increased social acceptance of these relationships (Joyner & Kao, 2005; Lee & Edmonston, 2005). As of 2000, nearly 6% of all married couples were interracial compared to fewer than 1% in 1970. However, a growing literature describing the challenges faced by interracial couples (e.g., Chito Childs, 2005; Dalmage, 2000; Killian, 2003; Lewis & Yancey, 1995; Root, 2001) suggests that crossing racial lines still violates enduring norms of who should and should not marry whom (Killian). Demographic evidence further supports this hypothesis. For example, Bramlett and Mosher (2002) found that 41% of interracial couples divorced by the 10th year of marriage compared to only 31% of same-race couples. Their findings imply that, although...

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