Why Have Interracial Marriages Shot Up Since 1997?

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?

THANK YOU.

We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.