The World of Numbers in Interracial Relationships

by Laf on November 15, 2016 - 3:49pm

The academic research article “Interracial Relationships and the Transition to Adulthood” has as its purpose to demonstrate and justify the change of patterns of the involvement in interracial sexual relationships during the transition to adulthood. This analysis is based on the data collected by the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS, 1990s) and by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health, 2000s). The main hypothesis of Joyner and Kao (2005) is that the involvement in interracial sexual relationships decreases with the increasing age of young adults. The participants for the NHSLS are young adults aged between 18 and 35 years old, whereas the participants for Add Health are aged between 18 and 25 years old. The NHSLS concentrates on the sexual relationships of their participants during the previous year while Add Health follows their participants’ sexual relationships for five years. The variables in this article are age, the status of the relationships (interracial or not), the type of relationships and the “race” of the participants. In this study, the types of relationships are divided in three: single relationships (casual sexual encounters), cohabiting relationships (living together as a couple) and marriages. The “races” studied in these surveys are Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. However, since the numbers were not significant enough, the authors decided to discard the Asians and Native Americans from their analyses. According to both surveys, there is a decline in interracial relationships in the participants as they get older due to the anticipation for marriage. This is a direct cause of the notion that individuals prefer associating themselves with people of their own “race”. The graphics illustrating the interracial relationships are linear in their declination, and the size of the racial groups have to be taken into consideration as smaller groups have fewer opportunities to form relationships with individuals of the same “race”. NHSLS reports a drop of 2.7 % for Whites in interracial relationships and 12.3 % for Blacks aged between 30 and 35 years old. Additionally, Add Health reveals that for participants aged between 18-19 and 24-25 years old, Whites in interracial relationships go from 16.2 % to 11.9 %, Blacks drop from 20.2 % to 14 % and Hispanics pass from 44.9 % to 32.9 %. These numbers show that there is a constant decline of interracial relationships with age, but due to its increase in approval, the quantity of new interracial relationships rises every year. In other words, more people are in interracial relationships these days, but a decline can still be observed as the individuals get older. Now, if the types of relationships are put into context, the surveys show that cohabiting relationships are more likely to be interracial than single relationships and marriages. At first, this seems surprising to the authors since cohabiting relationships demand more commitment than single relationships. Yet, since the relationships talked about here are formed in young adulthood, individuals in single relationships need to consider the transitions to cohabiting relationship or marriage, which means that people who start off in interracial cohabiting relationships are more prone to stay in it.


My response:


What I found to be the most interesting in this article is how it concentrates solely on the data recovered in the surveys and makes links to today’s realities without automatically going into the details of racism. It acknowledges the fact that yes, there are “races” (socially talking, not biologically) and that yes, people that are not associated to the White “race” face some difficulties that the white privilege takes care of. It acknowledges all these aspects of interracial relationships, whether they are friendly or sexual, and accepts them. I strongly think that this is how racism should be handled, and that we should not educate children to be “color-blind” but teach them to learn and respect people’s different cultures. The lacking-point of this research article is organization. If I had done this analysis of surveys and written its results myself, I would have organized the information better as the article right now seems all over the place. If the information was well-presented, the article would gain much more appeal. Also, going straight to the point and not beat around the bush would be a point to improve.  


List of References


Joyner, K., & Kao, G. (2005). Interracial Relationships and the Transition to Adulthood. American Sociological Review, 70(4), 563-581. Retrieved from



What initially drew me to this blog post was the topic of interracial relationships. This blog post has to do with interracial relationships and ages of people in them. I was drawn in because I do not know very much about interracial relationships, and I wanted to know more about them. I live in a place where these types of relationships are not common at all. Almost everyone marries someone of the same race where I am from, so I do not know much. Coming from this background, I though this information about these relationships was very interesting. I thought it was great to learn about something that I had little knowledge about. I thought it was crazy that when people go up in age, the amount of interracial relationships decrease. People want to settle down and marry someone who is of the same race. I was kind of unsure of this and why this happened. I would love to have heard some reasoning behind this. Also, this post mentions that we should educate children to learn about other people’s cultures. I think this is a very good idea and I am in favor of this. If this happened, I think more interracial relationships would be possible in the future.

In a time with many more interracial relationships than other eras in history, this title had me excited to learn more about the current studies about these vital relationships. The one point that stuck out to me the most out of everything I have read for these responses is your idea towards being “colorblind.” I completely agree that this route to informing children about race/ethnicity is probably one of the worst ideas to dealing with racism or managing interracial relationships. Hands down, we are all the same, whether our skin is black, white, yellow, pink, purple, etc. However, an important step in this process of building healthy relationships across cultures and nationalities is learning, addressing, and accepting the differences. For example, my family’s neighbors, who have become great friends, moved here from South Africa. It would have been extremely ignorant to completely ignore that aspect of their lives and culture; these differences are what makes relationships so meaningful and special. Your writing was focused on great points, and I think if you had focused on content a little bit more instead of logistics of the survey it could have been stronger. But other than that, I would not change a thing; this piece was eye opening and compelling.

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