Saturday, June 2, 2007

Pew Research Center on Inter-Racial Dating


Social attitudes can change quickly. The most recent evidence that this is the case is the Pew Research Center survey on social attitudes, which included a question on inter-racial dating. While almost half of all Americans opposed inter-racial dating in just 20 years ago in 1987, in 2007, 82& approved inter-racial dating. This is a stunning change. What is especially interesting is that the change occurred in all age groups. In other words, the change did not occur merely because of the rise of more tolerant generations--it also occurred because many, many people changed their views.

Here is the Pew Research Center summary:

More than eight-in-ten Americans (83%) now agree that "it's all right for blacks and whites to date," reflecting the most dramatic change among the racial attitudes tested in Pew polls--as recently as 1987, the public was divided virtually down the middle on the issue, with 48% approving of blacks and whites dating and 46% disapproving. Age is an important factor in attitudes toward interracial dating. In this regard, Pew surveys since 1987 have documented two complementary trends: Each new generation is more tolerant than the one that precedes it. At the same time, members of each generation have become increasingly tolerant as it ages. Together, these trends help explain the increase in expressions of tolerance toward interracial dating in recent decades. Nearly two-thirds of all Americans born before 1946 (65%) say it is acceptable for whites to date blacks. In contrast, this tolerant view of interracial dating is shared by more than eight-in-ten Baby Boomers (84%) and members of Generation X (87%), who were born between 1965 and 1976. Among younger people there is even broader acceptance of interracial dating: 94% of those born since 1977 say it is all right for blacks and whites to date. There have also been striking changes since the late 1980s in how people of different races view black-white dating. In 1987-88, fewer than half of whites (44%) said that interracial dating was acceptable; that number has nearly doubled (to 81%) in the current survey. Two decades ago, about three-quarters of blacks (74%) felt interracial dating was acceptable. Today, nearly all African Americans (97%) believe that interracial dating is acceptable.

To me, the most obvious implication of this stunning change in attitudes, is that we may well soon see a similar change in attitudes on GLBT issues--such as same sex marriage. As I previously reported, a new Gallup study gas already shown that support for same sex marriage has almost doubled in the last decade.

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