December 3, 2005

Interracial Divorce Statistics

Because my 1997 article on interracial marriage "Is Love Colorblind?" remains popular, I get asked a lot about statistics on interracial divorce rates, but I'd never seen any. A reader now points me to this 1998 government report (PDF) that says about what you'd expect. Marital break-up rates for interracial couples are somewhat higher, but not hugely so:

First marriages in which the husband and wife are both members of the same race/ethnicity are more likely to succeed than those in which the spouses are of different race/ethnicity. After 10 years of marriage, interracial marriages have a 41% chance of disruption and same-race marriages have a 31% chance of disruption. The number of specific comparisons that can be made is limited because of small sample sizes. While specific pairings such as ‘‘white/black’’ or ‘‘black/Asian’’ are not shown, ... ‘‘White/any other’’ couples [which I believe include white-Hispanic as well as white-Asian] have similar chances of marital disruption [40%] as all ‘‘different race’’ couples [41%], which is not surprising as the majority of ‘‘different race’’ couples are ‘‘white/any other’’ pairings. ‘‘Black/any other’’ couples appear to have chances of marital disruption [48%] similar to those for all black couples [47%].

For first marriages between husbands and wives of the same race/ethnicity, the "disruption" (divorce or separation) rates at 10 years are Asians 20%, non-Hispanic whites 32%, Hispanics 34%, and blacks 47%. Lots of negative demographic factors correlate with higher divorce rates, so it's likely that the Hispanic "propensity to divorce" is less than the white propensity, all else being equal. Somebody should do a regression study of the demographic characteristics of interracial couples and see how their underlying propensity to divorce compares to same race couples.

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Anonymous said...

Interesting topic. I wonder about comparing the divorce rate of black male/white female to the divorce rate of white male/black female.

While I know far more black male/white female couples, I also know these couples have a very high divorce rate.

I know a few white male/black female couples, but of those couples, I know of no divorces.

But I don't know enough couples to come out with any sort of statistic. Yet I'm rather sure that white male/black female relationships seem to do somewhat better, even though black male/white female relationships are far more common.

Just wondering...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment. I currently am looking at this and was wondering if you could tell me where you got this article?


please reply back at

JStone said...

We have a friend who is going through a divorce.

He is anglo, and his wife is Chinese.

What makes their circumstances so exceptional to me is that having known them for about 7 years, I have always considered them to both be responsible, decent and level headed.

They have a 6 year old son, which they seem to dote over, and they were both clearly very good parents.

Now in the past Ms B made some incidental but ominous comments about the wife, which I disregarded at the time. Ms B told me that the wife would bitterly complain in private about her husband, but there was no substance to the complaints. Ms B described the complaints as being "child-like" and repetitious in nature.

Had my wife not told me this, I would never have thought this woman was child-like, nor someone who complained about her husband behind his back. She just seemed too nice and empathetic in public. In fact, she really won me over as a great mother and a great wife.

But clearly I was wrong!

Well, this couple separated about a year ago. Since then the husband has wanted to see the child 3 days per fortnight, but the wife refused. She would only agree to 8 hours per fortnight.

So after failing to get anywhere in mediation, the husband filed for greater access to his son via the Family Court.

In response his wife filed allegations of child sexual abuse.

Now I won't go into detail about these allegations, but to say that they are completely preposterous and bizarre.

I read the wife's statement and the allegations in full, as did Ms B. We both agreed that the wife was either lying or she is so disturbed by the divorce that she is deluding herself. In fact I had to pinch myself a number of times as there was no logic in the ramblings, apart from references to women's intuitition and references from the internet about bed wetting being linked to child abuse. She also supplied some selective snippets from the internet suggesting that any form of shared care was disruptive to children.

My final take was that this was all about child support, given that in Australia child support reduces if the child sees the other parent on overnight stays. Its the only way I can understand what has happened.

But now to my point, and this is eerily similar to one of the comments by a poster to a previous post.

The husband has hired a solicitor and barrister to represent him in Court.

He told me recently that while in a briefing with his barrister, the barrister said that in his experience, Chinese born wives are particularly malicious during divorce. In fact he mentioned that of the 5 most spiteful wives that he comes across per year in his work as a barrister, about 3 tend to be Chinese born.

Now make of this what you will, but if true, it is a worrying statistic for many fathers out there.

Anonymous said...

To-- JStone makes this sound like everyone man out there should watch out for Chinese females because they are just awful. I think it really depends on that certain individual. Not just Chinese women can be malicious, but white, black, or hispanic women can be as well. The last portion of this story just seems to be steroetyped.

Anonymous said...

He wouldn't be entirely wrong. The reason why white men who date Asian women say they are neurotic, self-conscious and hysterical is because the vast, vast majority of "normal", "nice" and intelligent Asian women are in long-term, monogamous relationships with Asian men.

Asian/Asian couples, as was shown originally, had the lowest divorce rates. So it's not surprising that the judge will run into tons upon tons of green card marriages breaking down.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is standard procedure for women in green card marriages. I know immigration officials, and they know some women who are honest good people who remain in the family they commit too, but a great many of them come over, allege sexual or physical abuse to block all contact, and then reap the benefits of the money the man has to pay. Especially if he is rich or owns a business/real estate, they will take as much as they can as quick as they can. They act like perfect wives, making the man's life a fantasy for the 6 month trial period, then BAM, about-face and take as much as they can for free. I would say anyone getting married for green card or citizenship is suspect of being a black widow.

Anonymous said...

I know a few white male/black female couples, but of those couples, I know of no divorces.

Anonymous said...

This is certainly something that I’m interested in after living in Thailand for 13 years as an expat. There certainly is a large divorce rate amongst mixed couples over here. There’s an interesting article on how Divorcing a Thai national works. I have been married to a Thai woman for over 10 years and of course there are some cultural hurdles to overcome, but in the long run if you are made for each other that’s it really.
Too many people come to this part of the world seeking marriage without finding out anything about the region or the local customs. Before you know it they are in an unhappy marriage with not a lot of options on their side if they want to divorce.
Buying up land used to be another reason foreigners would marry local women as it would allow them to purchase it in their wife’s name. The marriage was just for the paperwork to show to the authorities; usually the Thai partner would be paid off to keep the marriage going. Romantic isn’t it?

Anonymous said...

I am married to a Chinese woman (second marriage to both) from the mainland for 5 years, and feel very lucky. My wife came to the U.S for graduate school and stayed to work.
I can attest that there are large cultural differences, and you have to do your best not to offend. There is also a difference between single child "little emperors" and others.