Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Inter-Racial Dating Issues: Prejudice and/or Something Else

Posted by Adam Graham on April 17, 2007

Ilya Somin is disheartened by recent numbers suggesting a great reluctance of non-Asian women to date inter-racially. For example, according to this study to have an equal shot with a Black Woman (compared to a Black man) a White man needs to earn an additional $220,000 per year. He writes:

The first is the subject’s racial group’s percentage of the local population where he or she resides. If the person in question lives in an area where her group makes up 80 or 90 percent of the population, she loses very little by choosing to avoid interracial dating. She still has 80 or 90% of the relevant “market” to choose from. By contrast, if her group is a tiny minority, she is passing up far more potential dating opportunities. This may partially explain why whites and blacks are, on average, more reluctant to engage in interracial dating than members of other ethnic and racial groups, particularly Asian-Americans. Whites and blacks are more likely than Asians and Hispanics to live in areas where their group is either in the majority or at least a very large minority – although we should not forget the greater historical prejudice against African-Americans as well.

The second important omitted variable is the strength of the subject’s other preferences in a mate, besides race. The higher your standards for beauty, intelligence, income, social skills, and so forth, the less you can afford to also cut out a large percentage of the dating pool by foregoing interracial dating. The same is true if your standards are hard to meet because they are simply unusual rather than high (e.g. – if you insist that your romantic partner have exactly the same religious or political beliefs, even if the beliefs you hold are uncommon). By contrast, if your other standards are relatively easy to meet, you can probably find a romantic partner even if you are unwilling to date outside your racial group, and you therefore have less incentive to compromise on your racial preferences.

The first observation is true. I’ve seen maybe one or two Black couples out here, but quite a few inter-racial ones. Back in Montana, the local Black population in Kalispell could be counted on two hands, so inter-racial friendship and interracial dating was really the only option.

The second one is subjective at best. How does a researcher measure whether demands are excessive or unreasonable? Those are subjective judgments that don’t really fit well on paper. Some commenters complained that Somin was suggesting all reluctance about prejudice:

I also did not claim that ALL reluctance to engage in interracial dating is the result of “prejudice.” However, some significant part of it probably is. Cultural differences alone cannot account for the fact that there is much greater reluctance to engage in interracial dating with blacks than with other groups despite the fact that cultural differences between blacks and whites are, on average, probably smaller than those between native-born whites and recent Hispanic or Asian-American immigrants.

Well, a couple things to be clear on. Yes, there is some prejudice involved here. However given that a White Man has to earn $220,000 for a shot with a White woman and a Black mean “only” has to earn $154,000, can we say that it’s all on one side?

While some of this prejudice might be hardcore racism or latent racism, or whatever, most of it isn’t. Indeed, prejudice undergirds the whole dating scenes. Some guys like Blondes, or Red Heads, Green Eyes or Blue Eyes. Some girls like muscles, some like brains. Really, a lot of people face a limited pool.

However, part of the problem is that we still live very segregated lives. There are few truly inter-racial churches. At college and work, if we can get away with it, most of us float without thought to our own particular group, or someone are quite shallow and have a great sense of self-satisfaction with how they are trailblazers, but have no real relationships.

Simply put, if our normal, everyday relationships with people of other skin colors are either non-existent or shallow, how do we expect the far more serious relationship of marriage to come about?


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