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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nashua relative trendsetter for interracial marriages in New Hampshire

Nashua has a higher percentage of interracial marriages than the rest of New Hampshire.

Of the marriages performed from 2008-10 in which at least one participant lived in Nashua, 13.7 percent of the couples were of different races. That’s higher than the statewide percentage of 9.7 for the same period, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center earlier this month.

These numbers come into perspective on the heels of a recent study that showed interracial marriages are on the rise across the U.S.

Two sets of statistics obtained by The Telegraph don’t offer a long enough review to determine whether marriages outside of race are growing in popularity in Nashua or New Hampshire.

But one thing is for certain: Nashua seems to be a relative trendsetter with these marriages when compared with the state as a whole. More than 13 percent of marriages in the city from 2008-10 involved people of different races, according to the state Division of Vital Records Administration.

Of those “married out” couples, 7.9 percent were white/Hispanic, 2.7 percent were white/black, 2.5 percent were white/Asian and 0.6 percent were categorized as “other mixed,” according to Vital Records.

There is a caveat to those figures, though, and it’s a significant qualifier: The Vital Records statistics about Nashua don’t consider every marriage in the city.

Nashua’s city clerk’s office, along with city and town clerks throughout New Hampshire, submit marriage licenses to the Vital Records division for archiving, but not every license denotes the race of those who married.

A married couple don’t have to offer their racial background for posterity. Providing that information is voluntary. So, there could be more or fewer interracial marriages in Nashua.

The Telegraph asked the Vital Records division to compile the statistics on Nashua after the release of the Pew Center study.

About 15 percent of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another, the study said. That number was more than more than double the share of interracial marriages in 1980 – 6.7 percent.

Hawaii had the highest percentage, 42.4 percent, and Vermont had the lowest, with 4 percent. Only 12 states other than New Hampshire had a lower percentage of marriages outside races.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that New Hampshire ranks on the bottom of the national chart: 93.9 percent of the population is white, according to the most recent U.S. Census.

That’s apparent when looking at the flip side of the marriage breakdown for Nashua: 86.3 percent of Nashua marriages involved couples of the same race, while the statewide percentage of those who “married in” was 90.4.