Figure 15.2 Marital Status of the U.S. Population, 2008, Persons 18 Years of Age orOlder
Source: Data from U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). Statistical abstract of the United States: 2010. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from .Most marriages (96.1%) are intraracial, or between people of the same race, with only 3.9% of marriages between people of different races. As small as it is, this figure is 3 times greater than the 1.3% of marriages in 1980 that were interracial. Moreover, almost 15% of new marriages in 2008were interracial. This increase (Chen, 2010)Chen, S. (2010, June 4). Interracial marriages at an all-time high, study says. CNN. Retrieved from interracial-marriages-millennial-generation-race-and-ethnicity-matter?_s=PM:LIVINGis reflected in dating patterns, as more than half of African American, Latino, and Asian adults have dated someone from a different racial/ethnic group (Qian, 2005).Qian, Z. (2005). Breaking the last taboo: Interracial marriage in America. Contexts, 4(4), 33–37. More than half of married Asians and Native Americans are in an interracial marriage, compared to about 40% of Latinos, 10% of African Americans, and 4% of whites. These percentages heavily reflect the numbers of people in these groups, because mathematically it is easiest to end up in an interracial relationship and marriage if there are relatively few people in one’s own racial/ethnic group. Because there are so many whites compared to the other groups, more than 90% of all interracial marriages have a white spouse.It is interesting to see how the age at which people first get married has changed. Figure 15.3 "Median Age at First Marriage for Men and Women, 1890–2009"shows that age at first marriage declined gradually during the first half of the 20th century, before dropping more sharply between 1940
and 1950 because of World War II. It then rose after 1970 and today stands at almost 28 years for men and 26 years for women.Figure 15.3 Median Age at First Marriage for Men and Women, 1890–2009
Source: Data from U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). Estimated median age at first marriage, by sex: 1890 to the present. Retrieved from .The United States Compared With Other Western NationsIn many ways, the United States differs from other Western democracies in its view of marriage and in its behavior involving marriage and other intimate relationships (Cherlin, 2010; Hull, Meier, & Ortyl, 2010).Cherlin, A.J. (2010). The marriage-go-round: The state of marriage and the family in America today. New York, NY: Vintage; Hull, K. E., Meier, A., & Ortyl, T. (2010). The changing landscape of love and marriage. Contexts, 9(2), 32–37. First, Americans place more emphasis than their Western counterparts on the ideal of romantic love as a basis for marriage and other intimate relationships and on the cultural importance of marriage. Second, the United States has higher rates of marriage than other Western nations.