Q&A With Author of 'Is Marriage for White People?'

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September 1, 2011 ‐ By TheEditor

(Time) — TIME.com: Your book focuses specifically on marriage patterns within the black “middle class” of educated professionals. Why focus your research so narrowly?

Banks: Because this is a demographic that has traditionally been overlooked by demographers. When scholars study marriage, they usually focus on white people, yet when they focus on African Americans, they usually study the lower classes. There is very little serious data on other segments. Plus, the black middle-class is the community I am a part of — and I’ve personally witnessed the decline of marriage among African Americans.

So what did you find out? How is marriage faring among the black middle class?

Not well — particularly for black women. Typically, the more educated the woman, the more likely she is to marry. But a college-educated black woman is no more likely to have a husband than a poor Caucasian woman with barely a high school diploma. When it comes to forming a family, black women are not reaping the benefits of advanced education — nor are they passing those benefits onto the next generation.

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