Black-White Interracial Marriage Trends, 1850-2000

Aaron Gullickson, Columbia University

This article traces the trend in black/white interracial marriage from 1850-2000, using microlevel Census samples. The results show that the frequency of interracial marriage has been highly responsive to the dynamic nature of broader race relations. The growth of the Jim Crow racial state in the South and segregation in the North led to a drastic decline in the frequency of interracial marriage from 1880 to 1930. The frequency of interracial marriage increased in the waning days of this system between 1930 and 1940, but only began to increase at a steady and rapid rate in the post-Civil Rights era. When disaggregated by region, the results suggest a process of latent racism in the non-South, and one of unequal gender suppression in the South. Results by nativity and education are also discussed.

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Presented in Session 70: History of the Life Course and Family Transitions