First Comes Dating?: An Exploratory Analysis of African American Female Dating Responses to High Control Rates for African American Men

Katheryn K. Russell, University of Maryland at College Park

One-in-three young Black men is under the control of the U.S. criminal justice system (Mauer 1995). The fact that one-third of the Black men between ages 20 to 29 is either in prison, or jail, on probation or parole, has, understandably made them an important empirical focal point. However, the impact of Black male involvement in the justice system extends beyond Black men themselves. Although little empirical attention has been focused on the topic, young Black women are directly affected by the changing social status of young Black men. This study focuses on how college-aged Black women have responded to the increasing ratio of available Black women to available Black men. Specifically, how the growing control rate for young Black men has informed their dating choices. This study draws from research on marriage and race (e.g., Lichter et al 1991), including Wilson's "male marriageable pool index" (1987). Existing studies consider race-based dating patterns-including the rise in interracial dating. Few, however, explicitly consider whether and how the rising control rates for young Black men affect their dating, and ultimately marriage options. Study and findings are based on questionnaires and interviews with college-aged African American females.

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Updated 05/20/2006