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Poll: Many Americans have no friends outside their race

A new poll on whether American relationships are segregated found 40 percent of whites and 25 percent of non-whites do not have any close friends of other races.

The online Reuters/Ipsos poll also found that 20 percent of whites said they had five or more close friends of different races; 36 percent of non-whites said the same. Hispanics were the most likely to have a diverse friendship network.

Camille Zubrinsky Charles, a professor of sociology and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, said the divide was not surprising given the racial makeup of the nation's communities.

"There has been some progress, but whites and blacks in particular still tend to live in separate neighborhoods," she said.

Younger Americans were more likely to say they have friends — or romances — outside their own racial group, the pollsters found.

Some 25 percent of people under the age of 30 who have a spouse or partner said their significant other was of another race, in contrast to only 13 percent of those over the age of 40.

Geographically, the Pacific states had the most diverse relationships while the South had the least.

Birmingham, Ala., resident Carlon Carter, 18, who responded to the poll, told Reuters that his mother had told him stories of how segregrated her school was growing up.

"There's a big difference now," he said. "We don't see each other so much like 'you're white and I'm black'. If you like the same thing I like, then that's all that matters."

The poll — based on the responses of more than 4,000 Americans since July 24th — reported more segregation than a 2004 survey by Gallup that asked people a similar question.

In that poll, more than 80 percent of all races said they had close personal friends from other groups.