Types of Interracial Couples

Dr. Jarryd Willis PhD
16 min readJan 12, 2023

The most common interracial couple is Hispanic-White (42%), followed by Asian-White couples (15%)

Rather than considering interracial couples a homogeneous group, future studies should account for the different types of these couples as it may have implications on results” (Tarah Midy, 2018)

“Some racial pairings are more common than others (Brooks & Lynch, 2019). The most common interracial couple is Hispanic-White (42%), followed by Asian-White couples (15%), Black-White couples (11%), Black-Hispanic couples (5%), & Asian-Hispanic couples (3%) (Livingston & Brown, 2017), [though Black-White remains] the most sensationalized and stigmatized of pairings” (Brooks, 2021).

Data Extrapolated from Pew (Budiman & Ruiz, 2021)

Asian Multiracials comprise 17% of the US Asian Population

Asian & White = 57.65%

Asian & Hispanic = 17.65% (34% of which are part Filipino)

Minorities are more likely than White individuals to engage in intragroup colorism & colorism against minority groups in general.

Minorities have more positive interracial attitudes towards White ppl than towards other minority groups (Craig & Richeson, 2012).

Neighborhood Diversity

Previous research found that interracial couples are more likely to live in racially diverse communities (Holloway, Ellis, Wright, & Hudson, 2005).

We found evidence supporting that for both interracial couples & their offspring.

Interracial Couples

A univariate ANOVA found a significant main effect of interracial dating on neighborhood diversity, F(1, 1042) = 27.84, p < .001. Individuals in interracial relationships reported higher neighborhood diversity (M = 4.08) than individuals in monoracial relationships (M = 3.53).

Multiracial Individuals

A univariate ANOVA found a significant main effect of ethnoracial background on neighborhood diversity, F(2, 1395) = 15.32, p < .001. Bonferroni pairwise comparisons indicated that neighborhood diversity was higher for multiracials (M = 4.25, SE = .09) than for either monoracial minorities (M = 3.71, SE = .05) or White individuals (M = 3.54, SE = .13) (both ps < .001).

Half-White & Interminority

A subsequent analysis assessing half-White & interminority multiracials separately found a significant main effect of ethnoracial background on neighborhood diversity, F(3, 1394) = 11.14, p < .001. Bonferroni pairwise comparisons indicated that neighborhood diversity did not differ between interminority (M = 4.49, SE = .17) and half-White multiracials (M = 4.15, SE = .11), though both reported more neighborhood diversity than either monoracial minorities (M = 3.71, SE = .05) or White individuals (M = 3.54, SE = .13).

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Most White-minority opposite-sex couples with kids have a non-White father. Thus, the ratio of child socialization in adolescence may be more egalitarian as those minority fathers will be motivated to prepare their offspring for their adult life as phenotypic minorities.

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Interminority Couples’ Dissolution Rate

“Interminority couples are more likely to form as a result of a panethnic dyadic identity borne out of shared experiences of marginalization than are interracial couples where at least one member has White heritage (Vasquez-Tokos, 2017).

Hispanic-White couples are about 50% more likely to divorce than Asian-Hispanic couples & Black-White couples are about 10% more likely to divorce than Asian-Black couples (Brown, Williams, & Durtschi, 2018).

Multiracial identity increases an appreciation and empathy for cultural diversity among others (Shih & Sanchez, 2009).”

“Garcia (2015) found that Hispanic and Black female college students in the Los Angeles area preferred same-race or other minority partners due to shared experiences of racism” (Emily Westlund, 2020).

Research Question: Do interminority couples last longer?

Average length of romantic relationship for different types of #interracial couples (preliminary SoCal Lab data)

Mix = Multiracial
Monoracial couples for additional comparison

Most multiracials identify as two groups (Davenport, 2018; US Census Bureau, 2018).

We focus on non-White multiracials “to expand the discourse around racial mixing beyond the centralizing of whiteness”

“In a society where race did not play a role in intimate relationships, 44%, not just 15%, of recent marriages would be interracial (Fisman, 2008)” (Maldonado, 2017).

Multiracial women “demonstrate some preferences for other multiracial men even when the racial composition is different from their own” (Curington et al., 2020, p. 200).

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Tarah Midy (2018):

“Rather than considering interracial couples a homogeneous group, future studies should account for the different types of these couples as it may have implications on results.”

“Whites tend to be more opposed to a close family member marrying a Black person than an Asian person (Golebiowska, 2007). This is consistent with Whites having more positive stereotypes of Asians than Blacks or Hispanics (Charles, 2006).”

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‘The majority of part-white mixed people have white spouses (Miyawaki 2015), “whereas interminority multiracials are not more likely than monoracial minorities to marry someone White” (Littlejohn, 2019). Multiracials are more likely to marry other #multiracial ppl (Pew, 2015).

Black/White multiracials are also more likely to say that they feel accepted by Blacks than by Whites (PEW, 2015; Khanna, 2011), while Asian/White multiracials report feeling more accepted by Whites than by Asians (PEW 2015).

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Lundquist et al., 2015

Interracial couples were perceived as less compatible than were intraracial couples, but only when the other-race partner was African American, not when he or she was Asian American (Lewandowski & Jackson, 2001).

The idealization and construction of hegemonically masculine norms has been documented among gay men (Connell 1992), which manifests itself in the intersection of racial stereotypes.

Racialized images of black men as virile and hypermasculine have led to the fetishization of the black body by white gay men (Collins 2004; Green 2008; Reid-Pharr 2001; Wilson et al. 2009).

The constrictive “erotic capital” of this black male archetype plays out in male escort services, where black dominants (tops) receive the highest price for their services, while more effeminate black men (bottoms) are the most penalized and least desired (Logan 2010).

“Stated another way, minority men are avoided by white daters, regardless of their sexual identity, while minority women fare considerably better.””

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Intercultural Competence

It takes more intercultural competence for minorities & White subjects to interracially date a minority group than to date someone White.

Moreover, the ICC of White subjects dating minorities is marginally higher than that of minority subjects dating someone White

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Irish, Italian, & Jewish eventually categorized as White (Miyawaki, 2015)

“Ethnoracial categories are malleable and can change over time. The boundaries of whiteness expanded in the past to include groups previously considered nonwhite, such as the Irish, Italians, & Eastern European Jews (Alba, 1985; Brodkin, 1998; Ignatiev, 1995).”

“According to the 2008–2012 American Community Survey, “54.1% of black/whites, 72.8% of American Indian/whites, and 69.1% of Asian/whites have a white spouse” (Miyawaki, 2015)Relationship Satisfaction (Hendrick, 1988).

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Romantic Satisfaction Scale

The Relationship Assessment Scale measures individuals’ personal appraisal of the quality of their relationship. The 7 items on this measure were rated on a 6-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree, 6= strongly agree). The scale displayed strong reliability among subjects in interracial relationships (α=.84).

(Note: Reliability was not assessed for subjects who were in monoracial relationships.)

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Among those in same-sex couples, minorities are most likely to be raising children. Black Americans in same-sex couples are most likely & White Americans are least likely to be raising kids (Kastanis & Wilson, 2014).

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Why Ethnoracial?

Our analyses focus on broader classifications (i.e., East Asian, not South Korean) as they are sufficient to influence interpersonal outcomes on the basis of socially perceived ancestry (Jiannbin Lee Shiao, 2019).

For example, many American research subjects would likely mistake the attire of someone Sikh for someone Islamic. Similarly, distinguishing Laotian & Chinese matters far less in American social perception than Japanese & Iranian, White & Hispanic, Black & Sri Lankan.

Hispanic-White unions make up 42% of all interracial couples in the US (Livingston & Brown, 2017). Overall, 29% of Asian & 27% of Hispanic newlyweds have a spouse of a different ethnoracial background.

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Interracial Couples

Hispanic-White are the most common interracial couples (Bialik, 2017), accounting for 42% of all interracial couples in the United States (Livingston & Brown, 2017).

Duncan & Trejo (2011) find that children of an interracial Hispanic-non Hispanic marriage enjoy significant human capital advantages over children born from monoracial Mexican marriages in the US; including a 50% reduction in the high school dropout rate for male children.

[Interracial marriage] “occurs far less frequently than interfaith marriages (Qian, 1997)” (Hergovich & Ortega, 2018).

Multiracial women “demonstrate some preferences for other multiracial men even when the racial composition is different from their own” (Curington et al., 2020, p. 200).

‘Whites tend to be more opposed to a close family member marrying a Black person than an Asian person (Golebiowska, 2007). This is consistent with Whites having more positive stereotypes of Asians than Blacks or Hispanics (Charles, 2006)’ (Tarah Midy, 2018).

Among those in same-sex couples, minorities are most likely to be raising children; specifically, Black Americans in same-sex couples are most likely & White Americans are least likely to be raising kids (Kastanis & Wilson, 2014).

Our results also corroborate the findings of Phua and Kaufman (2003), which found that gay White men were overall more exclusionary than straight White men.

Racialized images of black men as virile and hypermasculine have led to the fetishization of the black body by white gay men (Collins, 2004; Green, 2008; Reid-Pharr, 2001; Wilson et al., 2009). The media has historically depicted Asian men as more feminine, while rendering Asian women as excessively submissive and feminine (Chou, 2012).

“Members of opposite-sex couples are more alike than those in same-sex couples for traits such as age & race” (Jepsen & Jepsen, 2002, p. 449). “Race-open preferences held by heterosexual men are similar to lesbians, while gay men’s less race-open preferences are more similar to heterosexual women” (Lundquist & Lin, 2015).

Our results also corroborate the findings of Phua and Kaufman (2003), which found that gay white men were overall more exclusionary than straight white men.

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Majority-Minority Demographic Shifts — Miyawaki, 2015

“For the first time, the number of minority births (50.4%) in 2012 exceeded the number of White births (49.4%) in the United States (U.S. Bureau of the Census 2012). Moreover, Whites in 2013 recorded more deaths than they did births for the first time in U.S. history (U.S. Bureau of the Census 2013).

Recent population estimates project that the United States will become a “majority-minority” nation come 2043, where Whites, while still remaining the single largest racial group, will no longer make up the majority (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2012).

“Ethnoracial categories are malleable and can change over time. The boundaries of whiteness expanded in the past to include groups previously considered nonwhite, such as the Irish, Italians, & Eastern European Jews (Alba, 1985; Brodkin, 1998; Ignatiev, 1995).”

“Marriages involving part-white multiracial Americans and whites accounted for a quarter of all interracial marriages in 2000 (Lee and Edmonston 2005).”

Jarryd

→ Perhaps we should assess monoracial-monoracial interracial marriage patterns separately from #multiracial-monoracial.

Mixed Japan

Around 2% of newborn babies born in Japan were classified as mixed in 2016, with a father or a mother who is of Chinese, Filipino, Korean, or American* nationality.”

*American = East/SE Asian, Black, Hispanic, Indian, Multiracial, Native American, Persian, White, etc

https://twitter.com/DrJarryd/status/1493733027658096653

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Torngren & Okamura, 2020

“By the 1980s, haafu had become more fashionable and started to reference more positive images. In the 2000s, a cosmetic makeup trend ‘haafugao makeup’, a makeup style which supposedly made one look mixed became fashionable (Okamura 2013, 2016, 2017a).”

https://medium.com/media/458e713ce5718780d972b4751f53a6f4/href

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America’s Tri-Racial (or Tripartite) Hierarchy places

1 — Top = Whites & multiracials (relative to skin tone) on top,

2 — Middle = Asians, Hispanics, Indians, Persians, multiracials (relative to skin tone) in the middle

3 — Bottom = Blacks + some darker skin tone groups at the bottom
(Bonilla-Silva 2004; Gans 1999; Lee and Bean
2007; Robnett & Feliciano, 2011; Mykel Rodriguez et al., 2022).

Racial homogamy in dating is the species-level default for all monoracial groups (i.e., Blackwell and Lichter 2004; Joyner & Kao 2005).

Sidenotes

Stigma Consciousness — Brooks, 2021

Stigma consciousness is the extent to which a person suspects that he or she will be the target of prejudice or discrimination (Pinel et al., 2005). Minorities are more attuned to the influence of race as a part of their racial socialization than their White peers (Tran et al., 2017).

The ability to “pass” as White, a process that places a premium on lighter skin tone, English language ability, and the absence of a discernable accent (Harris, 2018), can lead to differences in the anticipation of discriminatory experiences.

Black and Latinx students report greater stigma consciousness than Asian students, who in turn report more than White students (Pinel et al., 2005)

Brummett & Afifi, 2019

There is a great deal of social profit that individuals can acquire from an interracial relationship (Levin, Taylor, & Caudle, 2007; Reiter & Gee, 2008) and sufficient relationship ammunition to withstand the social pressures or relational difficulties they might face.).

Jackson Lu et al. (2020)

— South Asians experience more prejudice than East Asians (mostly phenotypic)
— “Analyses revealed that East Asians faced less prejudice than South Asians”

Louise Verdonck (2017)

Minorities experience discrimination, but also discriminate themselves (Aerts et al., 2010; Allport, 1954; Chen, 2010; Shapiro & Neuberg, 2008).

Harbi (2016)

“Minorities widely share prejudiced opinions towards other minority groups.” (see also Chen, 2010; Harbi, 2016).

Interracial History — Danya Brewer, 2019

In 1958, only 4% of individuals approved of an interracial relationship. By 1983, 50% were accepting of these affairs (Carroll, 2007).

According to Passel et al. (2010), only 14.6% of individuals were dating outside their own race in 2008. Black males & Asians are more likely to date outside their race than any other race.

An analysis of dating profiles found that “37% of African Americans reciprocated the attention shown to them by a White individual on a dating website (Mendelsohn et al., 2014). However, only 5% of Whites reciprocated attention shown to then by an African American. In particular, the White population demonstrated the most significant bias. These individuals claimed to be indifferent, yet 85% percent of their initiated contacts were to Whites and 3% of their contacts were to Blacks.”

Individuals tend to favor those from similar demographic backgrounds relative to other-groups & (especially) out-groups (Alhabash et al., 2014).

Shenhav et al. (2017) found that “[of those in an] intercultural relationship, 27.1% of them had parental issues with the relationship that remained unsolved (Shenhav et al., 2017).”

About Our Black Subjects

Most of our Black subjects are multiracial. Thus, there was no reason to focus on monoracial Black subjects given the small sample.

Among multiracial subjects, when the Black part is on dad’s side (64.9%), he’s mostly monoracial; when on mom’s side, she’s mostly multiracial. Among Blasians, 69.2% are Filipino & the others are all other East Asian groups combined.

Interracial Adoptions — Garbarini, 2020

Opposition to interracial adoptions had a long history. Up through the 1950s and 1960s, scholars such as Julie Berebitsky highlight the emphasis placed on “matching” in adoption. Even as international adoptees began to arrive in the United States in significant numbers, adoption agencies still attempted to create families which “should parallel the “natural” family as closely as possible” and which, in fact, “not only mirrored biological ones, but reflected an idealized version of them” (Garbarini, 2020)

The race of the parent who is delivering the message might impact how it’s Biracial Black-White youth receive it. For example,

White mothers reported that their Biracial daughters would say things like “you don’t get it” when they tried to celebrate their phenotypical features, especially their hair (Marbury, 2006).

Thus, the efficacy of monoracial socialization for Biracial youth could be contingent upon whether the messages come from a Black parent, but this has not been explored empirically.

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Lauren Davenport, 2018

Multiple-Heritage Marriage (V. Karandashev, 2021)

https://link.springer.com/.../10.1007%2F978-3-030-58438-2...

Misunderstandings due to external disapproval of their relationship and the internal dissimilarities within their relationship (Negy & Snyder, 2000). Consequently, multiple-heritage couples are assumed to have less relational and marital stability than same-heritage couples. Building on these assumptions from previous research, Bratter and King (2008) investigated marital stability and the likelihood of divorce in interracial couples and found that interracial marriages had higher rates of divorce than intraracial marriages. Similarly, additional cultural differences in multiple-heritage marriage might lead to increased levels of stress, greater instability, and decreased marital quality (Negy & Snyder, 2000). Furthermore, spousal dissimilarity relating to beliefs, values, behaviors, and perspectives in couples has been found to contribute to incompatibility within multiple-heritage relationships and could contribute to marital dissolution (Clarkwest, 2007).

In summary, marriage or partnership across heritages can carry individual, couple, and systemic consequences that affect relationship quality, levels of dissolution, relationship stability, and the likelihood of divorce (Killian, 2003). Opposition, a lack of support, external resistance to multiple-heritage partnerships, and societal stereotyping are examples of potential threats multiple-heritage couples might face. Furthermore, multiple-heritage couples that decide to marry may be met with increased levels of discrimination, as well as ostracism from friends, family, and society (Killian, 2001b, 2002).

Last Names — Patterson & Farr, 2017

Among lesbian couples having children via donor insemination, children were most likely to be given the last name of the birth mother, to whom they are genetically linked (Almack, 2005; Gartrell et al., 1999; Patterson, 1998). Some children were given the birth mother’s last name, with the other mother’s last name as a middle name. Still other children were given last names created by hyphenating the last names of both parents.

For example, in Gartrell and colleagues’ (1999) study of 70 lesbian couples who had children via donor insemination, 40 (57%) of the children were given the biological mother’s last name, and the other 30 (43%) were given hyphenated last names.

[ In same-sex female couples, most children take the last name of the parent that gave birth (Almack, 2005; Gartrell et al., 1999; Patterson, 1998). In heterosexual couples, most children take the last name of the parent that didn’t give birth (the father) (Johnson & Scheuble, 2002; Liss & Erchull, 2013l; Nugent, 2010). Even kids who are adopted take the father’s last name (Suter, 2012). ]

Last Names — Cyrena Selden, 2020

Patterson and Farr’s (2017) research analyzing last name choice differences among lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples, all who had adopted children, found that 91% of lesbian and gay couple parents had different last names and 82% of heterosexual parents had the same last name. With regard to last names of their adopted children,

96% of adopted children from heterosexual couples had been given their father’s last name while 52% of adopted children from same-sex couples were given a hyphenated last name (Patterson and Farr 2017).

The results of this research article illuminate other ways naming children can be decided upon when given the opportunity to reinvent boundaries and the nature of naming practices as well as the impact of sexual orientation of the parents.

Social Utilitarianism

…the literature has largely overlooked a distinct and potentially critical action that minorities might take to try to avoid anticipated discrimination: changing how they present themselves — especially in relation to racial cues” (Kang et al., 2016, p. 3).

…it does ‘‘not reveal the extent to which [minority] individuals change their behavior to avoid experiencing discrimination’’ (Blank, Dabady, and Citro, 2004: 112; see Pager and Pedulla, 2015). Thus the nature and consequences of the actions that racial minority job seekers might take in anticipation of discrimination remain incompletely understood.

Preference/Type

We have a racial hierarchy of numerous preferences: romantic, interpersonal, who we will protect & serve vs put our knee on their neck, who really seems to be in enough pain to deserve pain killers, whose hand do we call on in class in 3rd grade when reading Gone With The Wind, whose email do we reply to or take seriously when building a research team/ generating ideas, etc.

“The place of black women and women of color in society’s “desirability” hierarchy — Put simply, black women — and especially dark-skinned black women without Eurocentric features — are rarely ever seen or depicted as desirable.”

— The reason for these prejudices going unchecked seems to be the twin ideas of ‘types’ and ‘preferences’: two words which let most people get away without questioning their romantic choices any further beyond “they’re my type and that’s just my preference.

Dating is still a place where most people not only refuse to acknowledge that racially-based selection is a problem but actively accept it as a matter of personal preference, of ‘type’

It’s certainly worth examining why we’re so accepting of the idea that it’s somehow OK to write off whole groups as a romantic option based on ethnicity. Or conversely, why we hoist other demographics on to a pedestal as the ideal.”

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If vocalizing your pain to someone results in them dismissing you, this reflects poorly on their ability to provide you with support, not the validity of your experience”

Virtual Minorities

GamerGirl: Why are your virtual influencers significantly more racially diverse than your human people?

Brands: I mean, Trevor Noah & Ali Wong are great to see on tv/Netflix, but would you buy clothes from them? We feel safer with Asian & Black #VirtualModels instead of #ActualModels.

Brand #Millennial: We’re using multiracial employees because monoracial customers’ inability to categorize them makes them more likely to buy a product from them AND makes us look more diverse

Brand #iGen: We’ll overcome consumer racism using virtual racially ambiguous humans of 2100 after interracial reproduction averages everyone out.

#GamerGirl: So you’re planning to overcome racism not by moral evolution but by the algorithmic averaging of reproduction?

Brazil: …yeah, that always works

Fashion Brands: Love the skin you’re in — you can be just like LILMIQUELA

#GamerGirl: You’re championing body positivity and self-acceptance… while using a filter… on a virtual model. Can I speak with your manager?

Brands: Karen isn’t in today; she’s in surgery for talking out of both sides of her mouth too much.

“Remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed.” — bell hook

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Dr. Jarryd Willis PhD

I'm passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of others, & that's something I have the opportunity to do a professor & researcher.