Racial Preferences in Mate Selection: Evidence from a Speed Dating Experiment

Racial Preferences in Mate Selection: Evidence from a Speed Dating Experiment

By Itamar Simonson, Raymond Fisman, Sheena Iyengar, Emir Kamenica
2004Working Paper No. 1871

We utilize an experimental Speed Dating service to examine racial preferences in mate selection. Our data allow for the direct observation of individual decisions of randomly paired individuals; we may therefore directly infer racial preferences, which was not possible in prior studies. We observe stronger same race preferences for blacks and Asians than for Hispanics and whites, with insignificant overall level of racial preferences for female Hispanics and males of all races. Females exhibit stronger racial preferences than males. Differences in self-reported shared interests largely mediate the observed racial preferences. Collectively, our results imply strong but very heterogeneous racial preferences. Finally, we compare our experimental results with the levels of marital segregation in the United States.