Role of the ethnicity in the marriages: case of Latvia

Denize Ponomarjova, University of Latvia

Latvia’s multicultural and multi-ethnic society has historically played an important role in population statistics, sociological and demographical studies. After the restoration of independence in the Baltic States, when political, economic and sociological reforms took place, studies on ethnicity in the socio-demographic processes quickly developed in these countries. The first official statistical records of the ethnically mixed marriages appeared in 1930s, when 13,3% of all marriages were registered between spouses of different ethnicity (Skujenieks, 1938). During the Soviet period, hardly any statistics on mixed marriages were available. Some researchers calculated that e.g. number of intermarriages between two largest minorities Latvians and Russians was about 17% of the total marriages annually (Monden, Smits, 2005); around 30% of marriages involving Latvians were of mixed nationality in 1988 (although only 17 % of all marrying Latvians in 1988 entered into mixed marriages) (International Business Publication, 2013). Awareness of ethnicity appeared when Latvia regained its independence, the number of mixed marriages increased at that time, especially between Latvian-Russian ethnicities. The aim of the study is to summarize the changes the tendencies of ethnically mixed marriages in Latvia since the collapse Soviet Union and to answer the question - are the ethnically mixed marriages in Latvia disappearing? The study will be based on the data from statistical offices and registries. The main trends of mixed marriages at the beginning of 21st century will be determined and compared with the situation at the end of previous century. Comparative analysis using the marriage tables from Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia will be conducted. The tables contain information on ethnicity of brides and grooms for marriages registered in 1970-2014. The procedure on how ethnicity is allocated to children (descendants) in ethnically mixed families will be explored through the use of Latvian legislation and legal documents.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session 1