“When we hit this prosperity of the post-World War II moment, we see it take off like never before.” But while America is just beginning to grapple with this change, Klinenberg says that he’s happy with his own status quo — as a married man.
(August 2010) When Ann Dunham, a white woman, married a black African student, Barack Obama Sr., in 1961, marriage between white and black Americans was rare. In 2010, with Barack Obama Jr., in the White House, attitudes toward interracial dating and marriage are very different.
And younger clients are more willing to date outside their race than older clients. A recent report from the Pew Research Center found that one in seven new marriages in 2008 was either interracial or between a Hispanic and a non-Hispanic—unions encompassed by the term "intermarriages." This is double the percentage of intermarriages in 1980, but still relatively low.
And, as sociologist Dan Lichter points out, the biggest increase appears to be within minority groups. Interestingly, although younger people were more accepting of intermarriage, the Pew report found little difference in actual intermarriage rates by age—newlyweds age 50 or older were about as likely to marry out as younger newlyweds.
“I do think there’s a little bit of that paradox-of-choice problem,” he says.
“You have so many different options that it’s easy to find the flaws with each one and difficult to just pick some person with all their flaws — since we all do have them — and just stay with it.” In addition to having a plethora of options, the era of the extended American adolescence seems to have tempered the rush to marriage.
And that's not all: “They’re also more likely to spend time with friends and with neighbors.When you live alone, you have a little oasis in your apartment.” Klinenberg says that solo living also allows individuals who have ended a marriage to focus on their priorities.“Living alone gives you a chance to kind of get back on your feet and figure out who you are and what you want in your next relationship, so you can make a stronger return to social life,” he says.“It’s actually probably easier to meet people now than ever before, if you think about all of the incredible technologies we have to connect,” says Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University and the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.“But one big issue is people today are really looking for their soul mate," he says, "and they’re not going to compromise.” In addition to holding out for a soul mate, Klinenberg says many people aren’t settling down with someone because of society’s changing culture.In general, marriages between blacks and whites overwhelmingly involve a white wife and a black husband, just as the Dunham/Obama marriage did in 1961.