Marriage squeeze

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The marriage squeeze refers to an observable sociological condition experienced in the United States by African American women, who find it difficult to meet and marry desirable and eligible men. According to data from dating services, African American women are the least likely to receive response from men of any race and ethnicity in the USA.[1][2] According to Newsweek, 43% of African American women between the ages of 30 and 34 have never been married.[3]

Marriage assymmetries[edit]

Racial patterns of marriage contribute to the marriage squeeze: In the United States African American men marry non-African Americans at a higher rate than do African American women.[4] This leads to there being 2.38 times more Black men marrying White women than the reverse in the United States. In the United Kingdom that assymmetry still exists but is at 1.46. [5]


There have been a variety of suggestions to explain the patterns of marriage observed:


Some other suggested factors that are the cause for this condition are: As a category, African American men suffer from higher rates of incarceration, unemployment, and poor health than do their white counterparts in the United States. These conditions often make their lives unstable, and disqualify them from raising a home effectively, in effect brand them as "unmarriageable". [6]

Desire to 'Marry up'[edit]

There is a desire among educated women of all races to marry partners within or above their social and economic class; when African American women restrict their marriage prospects to African American men, African American women risk either marrying below their socioeconomic class or not marrying at all as African American women consistently achieve better completion rates in higher education than African American men do.[7] Also, rates of incarceration for marriage-age African American males are far higher than rates for females, further contributing to the male/female gap. As of 2002, 10.4% of all African American males between the ages of 25 and 29 were sentenced and in prison.[8] The African-American male-female disparity is highest between the ages of 25 – 29, when for every two African-American men, there are nearly three African-American women.[9]

According to AsianWeek, possible explanations for the relatively low number of African American/Asian American interracial couplings could be covert racism from first generation family members at the idea of marrying African Americans. These negative views on African Americans possibly stem from stereotypes within the Asian community which portray African Americans as "violent" and "lazy", or from the perception that marrying a black partner constitutes "marrying down" because black Americans are on average less affluent than Caucasian Americans.[10]


  1. ^ The uncomfortable racial preferences revealed by online dating
  2. ^ How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get
  3. ^ "The Black Gender Gap". Gene Expression. 2003-02-23. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  4. ^ Crowder, Kyle D.; Tolnay, Stewart E. (August 2000). "A New Marriage Squeeze for Black Women: The Role of Racial Intermarriage by Black Men". Journal of Marriage and the Family (Minneapolis, MN: National Council on Family Relations) 62 (3): 792–80. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.00792.x. ISSN 0022-2445. OCLC 49976459. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  5. ^ DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031703
  6. ^ (Reference: Benokraitis, N. 2011. Marriage and Families: Choices and Constrainsts. Prenhall, NY.
  7. ^ Melendez, Michele M. (2004-04-25). "Fewer Women are 'Marrying up'". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  8. ^ Harrison, Paige M.; Beck, Allen J. (July 2003). "Prisoners in 2002" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin. U. S. Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  9. ^ O'Connor, Vikki (February 2006). "Barriers to Marriage and Parenthood for African-American Men & Women" (PDF). Syracuse University. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  10. ^ Lavilla, Stacy (April 1998). "The Minority Interracial Couples". AsianWeek. Retrieved 2008-09-25.