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All You Need Is Love? An Examination of Interracial Divorce Open Access

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Using data from the 1998-2004 Marriage Matters survey (N=700), this study examines how social support is related to marital dissolution among interracial couples in Louisiana. Social support - the perceived level of support from family members, friends, and other networks - has been shown to increase marital stability. However, little is known about the impacts social support has on interracial marriages and even less is known about its impact in curbing divorce, particularly within interracial unions.Given that there is a growth in the visibility of interracial marriages in the United States, focusing on factors that predict interracial divorce is timely. A primary focus of this research then is to explore how social support is related to the likelihood of divorce among interracial couples. Recent research suggests that measures generally associated with divorce (couple-level characteristics, individual characteristics, premarital events) operate similarly within interracial and same-race unions (Fu 2006). Thus, a second focus is to analyze how these measures may be moderated by social support. Situated in the homogamy perspective and the investment model, this research uses longitudinal, couple-level data from Louisiana to assess (a) if variables associated with divorce will be predictive of divorce for interracial marriages in Louisiana, (b) if interracial unions are likely to end in divorce compared to same-race unions, (c) whether social support explains the difference in divorce among interracial and same race unions, and (d) whether traditional measures associated with divorce operate similarly within same-race and interracial unions.Results indicate that interracial marriages are more likely than same-race marriages to end in divorce. Even when controlling for variables associated with divorce and social support, interracial marriages are more likely to end in divorce than same-race marriages. Social support is not a reliable predictor of divorce among interracial couples, but one particular measure of social support (premarital counseling) reduces the likelihood of divorce for same-race marriages. Regardless of marriage type, income differences reduce the likelihood of divorce and cohabitating with others before marriage is positively related to marital dissolution for wives.

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