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Married-Couple Households by Nativity Status: 2011

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Report Number ACSBR/11-16


According to the results of the 2010 Census, almost 7 percent of married-couple households in the United States included a householder and a spouse of different races.1,2 In addition, about 4 percent of married-couple households were composed of partners where one was Hispanic and the other not of Hispanic origin.3 Researchers estimate that the proportion of all marriages that were either interracial or interethnic had increased from about 3 percent in 1980 to over 8 percent in 2010.4

The increase in interracial and interethnic marriage over the last four decades may have been partially driven by the steady growth in the number of foreign born in the United States, especially those from Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.5,6 Between 1980 and 2010, the foreign-born population increased from 14.1 million to 40.0 million. About two-thirds (65 percent) of that increase was due to the growth in the foreign-born population from Latin America and the Caribbean, with over one-third (34 percent) due to the growth in the foreign born from Asia. Because the growth of the foreign-born population has contributed to the racial and ethnic diversity of the United States, it is likely that this growth has enlarged the pool of potential spouses for out-marriage, thereby increasing the proportion of interracial and interethnic marriages.7 As the growth in the foreign-born population may have influenced the rate of intermarriage among racial and ethnic groups, it is possible that it also influenced the rate of intermarriage between native and foreign-born people. However, while researchers have analyzed intermarriage among different racial and ethnic groups, considerably less is known about patterns of intermarriage between the native and foreign-born populations.

Using the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS), this report examines the number and geographic distribution of mixed-nativity married-couple households in the United States. Three types of married-couple households are considered: (1) those in which the husband and the wife are both native; (2) those in which they are both foreign born; and (3) those in which one spouse is native and the other is foreign born. This report begins by examining the number and distribution of married-couple households across these types, with emphasis on the citizenship of the householder and spouse within each. Additional information on mixed-nativity married couples regarding sex, citizenship status, and world region of birth is then discussed. Finally, the geographic distribution of mixed-nativity married-couple households by state is also explored.

1 Daphne Lofquist, Terry Lugaila, Martin O’Connell, and Sarah Feliz, “Households and Families: 2010,” U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2010 Census Briefs (C2010BR-14), 2012.
2 In this report, the United States includes the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
3 Lofquist et al., 2012.
4 Wendy Wang, “The Rise of Intermarriage: Rates, Characteristics Vary by Race and Gender,” Pew Research Center, Washington, DC, February 16, 2012.
5 Jeffrey S. Passel, Wendy Wang, and Paul Taylor, “Marrying Out: One-in-Seven New U.S. Marriages is Interracial or Interethnic,” Pew Research Center, Washington, DC, June 15, 2010.
6 Elizabeth M. Grieco et al., “The Size, Place of Birth, and Geographic Distribution of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 1960 to 2010,” U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, Population Division Working Paper 96, 2012.
7 Passel et al., 2010.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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