Among students who had dated interracially, at least 90 percent each of white, Hispanic, or Asian students said their parents acquiesced to their relationship.

But only 59 percent of black students who had interdated said their parents were comfortable with their dating. "People's view of how things are going in terms of race relations in this country is really distinctively colored by their race," he says.

Since interracial dating (or "interdating") and interracial marriage were outlawed or ostracized for so long in U. history, many sociologists see the incidence of these relationships as a key indicator of the state of U. "Many people who are honestly accepting of equal treatment across a wide range of social interaction would finally draw the line when it came to [a romantic relationship] between the race groups," says Smith. "We are seeing declining levels of objection to interracial marriage," says Smith.

Neither the Roper Report nor the General Social Survey specifically queried respondents on their attitudes or practices concerning interracial dating.

Interracial relationships and marriages are becoming more common in the United States, according to a new Cornell University study.

The number of interracial marriages involving whites, blacks and Hispanics each year in the United States has jumped tenfold since the 1960s, but the older individuals are, the less likely they are to partner with someone of a different race, finds the new study."We think that's because relationships are more likely to be interracial the more recently they were formed, so younger people are more likely to have interracial relationships.

For instance, 72 percent of teens surveyed thought people dated people of other races because they cared about the other person, while less than 20 percent thought their peers interdated as a rebellion against parents or as an attempt to "be cool." Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of white students who had not dated interracially said they would consider dating someone who was not white, while 58 percent of black students would consider dating a nonblack.

But the Gallup survey also found that teens thought some interracial couples—always involving a black partner—faced potentially greater friction from their respective racial and ethnic groups about their relationships.

While Yancey studied interdating habits among adults, the future of interdating can perhaps best be understood by studying the activities and attitudes of teenagers. A 1997 Gallup national survey of people ages 13 to 19—found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of black, Hispanic, or Asian teens who had ever dated and who attended schools with students of more than one race said they had dated someone who was white.

Younger people have historically been more open to racial integration and more positive about race relations than older people, according to Jack Ludwig, senior research director at the Gallup Poll in Princeton, N. (This poll is the latest comprehensive survey of U. teens on the topic of interracial dating.) Consistent with Yancey's findings for adults, only 17 percent of white students who had dated and attended integrated schools in this survey had dated a black person, while 33 percent had dated a Hispanic person and 15 percent had dated an Asian.

For example, while no more than 11 percent of the teens surveyed thought a white-and-Hispanic or white-and-Asian couple would be ostracized by their respective racial or ethnic groups, about one-quarter of those surveyed said that a white and a black student dating each other would face problems from other white or black students in school.

Given these figures, it's not surprising that Gallup reported that black students faced the highest rates of resistance from their parents over interracial dating of any group surveyed.

Ludwig says such parental wariness is not unusual, given blacks' dimmer view of the state of U. "The experience of living as a black person and as a white person in this country is quite different, despite substantial progress since the 1960s." Ludwig and Yancey both agree that interdating is unlikely to increase significantly over the coming decade.