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Most cohort analysis does not involve interviews with the same individuals at multiple points in time.
Instead, separate samples of each cohort are compared over time.
Unfortunately, for many measures of the public’s attitudes and behaviors, long-term trends of the type shown here for interracial dating attitudes do not exist.
Consequently, the best available evidence for detecting many generational differences are comparisons of attitudes and behaviors across age groups from a single point in time, or, at best, over a relatively short period of time.
Even so, we believe our series of reports will help to illuminate the lives and times not just of Millennials, but of all Americans.
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Since 1987, the percentage of Americans approving of interracial dating has increased dramatically, from 48% to 83%.
A cohort analysis shows that this change has occurred partly as a result of nearly all individuals become more accepting over time of blacks and whites dating, and partly through generational change, as each new cohort has come of age more supportive than older cohorts.
In short, young people may be different from older people today, but they may well become more like them tomorrow, once they themselves age. Generation differences can be the byproduct of the unique historical circumstances that members of an age cohort experience during adolescence and young adulthood, when awareness of the wider world deepens and personal identities and values systems are being strongly shaped.These are major events (wars, social movements, scientific or technological breakthroughs) that are likely to have a simultaneous impact on all age groups, though, again, their impact is often greatest among the young because their values and habits are less fixed than those of other age groups.The most common approach to trying to understand how each of these processes plays out is through , which uses data collected at different times to track changes in the attitudes and behavior of cohorts as they age.The pattern suggests a strong period effect in the direction of greater acceptance of interracial dating.This changing climate for race relations means that each new cohort came to adulthood more supportive of interracial dating, but the continuing cultural forces also persuaded some individuals to change their views on this topic at some point during adulthood.