Sassler and Joyner examined data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and the 2002 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health -- two nationally representative samples -- to understand the characteristics of relationships among heterosexual youth ages 18-24.
They used respondents' self-designations as white, black, Hispanic and Asian.
While socioeconomic inequality among people from different races in the United States has existed for centuries due to racial discrimination and prejudice, the racial barrier for certain groups seems to be weakening.
People from different racial groups have been increasingly working and going to school together, while, with the racial gaps in income narrowing, neighborhoods monopolised by whites in the past have become more affordable for members of racial minorities.
The paper, by Sharon Sassler associate professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology, and Kara Joyner, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University, is published in the September issue of the peer-reviewed journal Social Forces (90:1).
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As a result of physical proximity, there are opportunities for interracial connections and friendships.
Mixed-race children of interracially married couples also tend to bring racial groups closer thanks to their friend networks, which are racially heterogeneous, while racial boundaries are further blurred by the growing mixed-race population.
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