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For groups with relatively high rates of inter-racial-ethnic dating (e.g., Hispanics), a higher proportion of different-race-ethnicity potential partners within the school may primarily present opportunities for cross-race-ethnicity dating and be associated with an increase in inter-racial-ethnic relationships.However, for other groups with low rates of inter-racial-ethnic dating (e.g., African American women), a higher proportion of different race-ethnicity potential partners may primarily present constraints in dating opportunities within the school and may be associated with more same-race-ethnicity relationships outside of school boundaries.Some might say that art imitates life, so it’s no surprise that there has been an explosion of television shows featuring interracial couples.However, the mainstream television series that portray Black people in interracial relationships – with Black women in particular – appear to far outnumber programs depicting Black couples.Which groups respond by forming inter-racial-ethnic relationships, and which groups appear to "work around" opportunities for inter-racial-ethnic dating by forming more same-race-ethnicity relationships outside of school boundaries?
It is often hoped that, if young people go to school with peers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, they will form close relationships across racial-ethnic boundaries and these relationships formed at young ages may set the stage for more close inter-racial-ethnic relationships throughout the life course (King and Bratter 2007, Wells and Crain 1994).
This study addresses this question with a novel focus on how school racial-ethnic composition may influence the formation of dating relationships outside of schools.
Using respondents’ reports of romantic and sexual relationships collected in the 1 waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), I investigate the question: When an adolescent attends a school in which a high proportion of the students are from a different racial-ethnic group than the adolescent—and consequently the adolescent has ample opportunities for inter-racial-ethnic dating, but few opportunities for same-race-ethnicity dating—is s/he more likely to form relationships outside of the school, particularly same-race-ethnicity relationships outside of the school?
While these studies offer a number of important findings and insights, their exclusive focus on relationships within school boundaries means they have not been able to consider alternative questions about out-of-school relationships addressed in this study.
This analysis further examines how associations between school composition and dating patterns inside and outside of schools differ by respondents’ gender and race-ethnicity.
While out-of-school relationships appear to increase adolescents’ risks of sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy, we have limited knowledge of what predicts dating outside of one’s school.