Does Intra-Couple Socioeconomic Similarity Promote Interracial Marriage? The Military as an Equalizing Context

Rachel Shattuck, University of Maryland
Meredith A. Kleykamp, University of Maryland

The percentage of Americans who marry interracially has increased steadily since the mid-20th century. Interracial marriage is more common among military veterans than in the general population, and has increased more quickly among veterans than non-veterans from the 1960s to the present. We hypothesize that as a source of stable, well-paying employment with clearly-formalized advancement criteria and increasingly egalitarian racial policies and norms, the military reduces socioeconomic differentials between veterans of color and whites and facilitates interracial friendship and dating. Using a combination of data from the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey to examine interracial marriages between non-Hispanic Whites and people of color we will attempt to explain the higher rates and quicker increase of interracial marriage among veterans by testing whether the three major theories of interracial marriage—status exchange, structural assimilation and marriage markets—hold more or less true for veteran vs. civilian interracial couples.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households