In 1967 the US Supreme Court reached a groundbreaking decision. In Loving v Virginia, the court finally outlawed the prohibition on interracial marriage, deciding that the ban contravened the constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Now, fifty years later, a study by researchers from the universities of Essex and Vienna has highlighted a dramatic rise in marriages between people from different ethnic backgrounds. And one of the reasons for the could be the proliferation of online dating websites and apps like Tinder.

A Look At The Figures

2015 figures from the Pew Research Center in America show the rate of marriages between different racial groups is 6.3%. 2011 census data shows 2.3 million people were living in an inter-ethnic relationship in the UK. That’s 9% of the population. This may be relatively low as a proportion of the population as a whole. But the new university study we’ve mentioned – focusing on social integration – shows a definite upward trend that coincides with the increase in popularity of dating apps and websites in recent years.

Dating Apps And The Change In Society

So are apps like Tinder, Match and Huggle really about to alter the nature of our society? The authors of the study certainly seem to think so. A 2012 study listed the ways Americans met their spouses in the previous decades. Listed in order of importance they were:

  • Through mutual acquaintances
  • In bars
  • At work
  • In educational institutions
  • In church
  • Through family
  • By becoming neighbours

By contrast online meetings are often between complete strangers. And the evidence shows that the incidence of interracial marriage has jumped at the same time or shortly after significant developments in the online dating industry. The study highlights that:

  • Following the launch of match.com in 1995 there was a spike in the number of interracial marriages in the US
  • The spike continued throughout the 2000s as online dating became more prevalent. The percentage of new interracial marriages in this decade rose by almost 5% to 15.5%
  • With the introduction of Tinder around 2014 the rate of interracial marriages continued to grow to over 17%

This information doesn’t definitively prove a direct link between the popularity of online dating and interracial marriages. But it does strongly support the idea.

Analysing the extent of interracial marriages is important because it measures social distance in society. There could be important economic implications with interracial couples, on average, having a higher combined income than white-white couples. The report also explores the possibility that interracial marriages last longer than others, so could marriages begin to last longer on average?

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