Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 3–19 | Cite as

Intermarriage and ethnicity among European Americans

  • Richard D. Alba


Increasing intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles is taking place at a time when marriage across lines defined by European ancestry has risen sharply. This paper examines the prevalence and social significance of intermarriage in the white population. Census data are used to establish the extent of intermarriage, and survey data to explore its potential significance. In particular, the paper considers the relationship of marriage to the ethnic identities of the partners and to the desire that children identify in ethnic terms. The findings are argued to reveal significant aspects of the contemporary state of European ethnicity in the U.S.

The growth of intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles in America is taking place at a time when marriage across lines defined by European ethnic ancestry has risen sharply. Considerable research effort has been expended on the determinants and consequences of Jewish-Gentile intermarriage, while other kinds of intermarriage have received less attention. Yet if intermarriage among Jews is part of a more general phenomenon, it is doubtful if its implications can be fully comprehended without taking into account the significance of intermarriage in the larger population. In this paper, I seek to address some of the issues concerning intermarriage among Americans of European ancestry, using U.S. census and other national data to establish the prevalence of intermarriage, and survey data collected in the region around Albany, New York to investigate its significance for its participants.


Ethnic Identity Ethnic Background European Ancestry Contemporary JEWRY Marriage Pattern 
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Copyright information

© Springer 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard D. Alba
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologySUNYAlbany

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