Meet the Parents: Why Interracial Intimacy Declines in the Transition to Adulthood

Kara Joyner, Cornell University
Grace Kao, University of Pennsylvania

How do individuals’ chances of forming intimate relationships with members of other racial groups change during the transition to adulthood? Using a life course approach, we predict that interracial involvement decreases in adolescence and young adulthood. Our analyses are based on the first two nationally representative surveys to collect detailed information on the romantic and sexual relationships of adolescents and adults: the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the National Health and Social Life Survey. Our results demonstrate that individuals’ chances of experiencing interracial intimacy decline dramatically between the ages of 12 and 30. Our results also suggest chances of interracial intimacy decline in adolescence and young adulthood mainly because intimate relationships become more integrated into family networks during these periods. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of our findings for future race relations among adolescents and adults.

Presented in Session 91: Interracial Contact