Jewish Congress Reports on Study of Intermarriage and Interdating
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Jewish Congress Reports on Study of Intermarriage and Interdating

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The American Jewish Congress reported today the results of a study indicating that most students at a ranking Eastern university had dates with persons outside their faith and believed that inter-religious marriage posed fewer problems than in the past.

The study, which covered 389 Catholic, Jewish and Protestant students, was prepared for the Jewish Congress by the Bureau of Applied Social Research of Columbia University under the supervision of Professor David Caplovitz and Harry Levy of the Bureau staff. It was released at a meeting of the National Governing Council of the Congress.

The study showed that Jewish students practiced interdating less than Catholic and Protestant students, expressed less likelihood of marrying outside their faith and were more likely to be affected by pressures from parents and friends aimed at discouraging interdating and intermarriage.

A surprising finding of the study was the similarity of dating habits of men and women students of all three faiths. It had been expected that girls–assumed to be closer to their families than boys and thus more subject to parental control–would interdate less frequently, the report noted. The study showed, however, that Catholic and Protestant girls were slightly more likely to interdate than Christian boys, while the reverse was true among Jewish students. But the differences were “hardly significant,” the study noted.


Catholic students were most likely to engage in interreligious dating while Jewish students were least likely to do so, according to the study. Among Catholic students, 74 percent said they frequently dated persons of other religious, compared with 60 percent of Protestant students and 33 percent of Jewish students.

Seventy-five percent of all the students surveyed reported they interdated at least occasionally. At the same time, however, only 35 percent considered it likely that they would marry someone of another faith. Again, Catholic students were found to be most receptive to the idea of intermarriage: 66 percent of the Catholics covered in the study considered it likely that they would marry outside their religion, against 46 percent of the Protestant students and 15 percent of the Jewish students.

A highlight of the study was the finding that parents and friends had strong influences on the students’ dating behavior and marriage plans. In all three religious groups, students who believed their parents and friends would disapprove of their interdating were much less likely to date outside their religion or to consider intermarriage.


Parental disapproval of interdating differed sharply along religious lines, the study found. Among Jewish students, 87 percent reported such disapproval, compared with 55 percent of Protestant student and 46 percent of Catholics. The student’ response to such disapproval also showed marked differences. A breakdown by religious grouping showed that 76 percent of Catholic students and 70 percent of Protestants said they ignored their parents’ objections to interdating, compared to 47 percent of Jewish students.

High correlation was found between interdating habits and the expectation of intermarriage, on the one hand, with the level of education and the occupation of the students’ fathers. Among Jewish students whose fathers had completed post graduate university work, 23 percent expected to marry outside the faith, compared to 11 percent whose fathers had not gone beyond high school. Interdating and expectation of intermarriage were most common among Jewish students whose fathers were in the academic professions and least frequent among those whose fathers were classified as “blue-collar” workers.

There were only minor differences among the Catholic, Jewish and Protestant students when questioned on their views of the chances of success of intermarriage today as compared with ten years ago, according to the study. Among Catholics, 81 percent felt it was easier today for an interreligious couple to avoid difficulties based on their religious differences, compared with 75 percent among Protestants in the sample and 71 percent of the Jewish students. On the question of which kind of intermarriage faced the most difficulty, there was strong agreement among all three faiths in the sample that Jewish-Protestant and Catholic-Protestant marriages posed the least difficulty and Catholic-Jewish marriages the most difficulty.

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