New research suggests that online dating is increasing interracial marriages. The theory goes that dating websites and apps have enabled millions of connections to happen between individuals who would otherwise never have met. Want some proof? According to a 2017 study by Josue Ortega at the University of Essex in the UK and Philipp Hergovich at the University of Vienna in Austria, online dating is the main driver behind the increase in interracial marriages in the US.
Before the first wave of dating sites like Match.com emerged in the mid-90s, people found mates that were loosely connected to their social networks in some way. For example, people married a friend of a friend, coworker or someone they met through education.
However, today the second most common way for married couples to have met is online, and more than a third of relationships that end up in marriage start on a dating site. For homosexual couples, online dating plays an even bigger role, with the vast majority originating online.
By giving people the opportunity to draw from a far more diverse pool than that of their existing social networks, online dating is enabling more interracial relationships and marriages.
Interracial marriage, which was banned in some parts of the US until 1967, has been on the rise since before the emergence of online dating. However, the rate of increase accelerated when the sites became popular, jumping significantly in 2014 after Tinder launched in 2012.
“It is intriguing that shortly after the introduction of the first dating websites in 1995, like Match.com, the percentage of new marriages created by interracial couples increased rapidly,” say researchers, Ortega and Hergovich.
Other factors have also played a part. For example, the proportion of the US population that is white has decreased over the years. However, the researchers note that this reduction is not enough to explain the huge increase in interracial marriages.