Is there a retreat from intermarriage? Evidence from a traditional immigrant country

Gina Potarca, Université de Lausanne
Laura Bernardi, Université de Lausanne

With growing migration flows across Europe, mixed marriages have started to take off. Their prevalence indicates how porous the socio-cultural distance between the natives and immigrants is. In Switzerland, a country with an ever-increasing and changing immigrant population, both natives and immigrants have more open preferences towards intermarriage than in other countries. Little is known however about the actual trends and patterns in the emergence and dissolution of such marriages in Switzerland. Using data from the 2013 Swiss Family and Generations Survey, and examining both immigrants and natives, we fit competing risks models for entry into first and second marriage, and Cox proportional hazards model for entry into divorce. We find evidence of an ethnically segregated marriage market, with migrants from neighboring Western European countries having higher chances of getting and staying married to a native spouse. Results reflect variation in both cultural and human capital across origin groups, as well Switzerland’s integration policies. Generational trends towards less exogamy among young immigrants are suggestive of the transformation of marriage market conditions over the last decades. While previous research on mixed unions in Europe largely focused on a single partnering transition, we present a more comprehensive picture of mixed marriages by examining outcomes of both occurrence and longevity. This expands our understanding on the resilience of certain ethnic/ nativity boundaries across the life course, and not only in connection to a single event or transition.

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Presented in Session 101: Comparative perspectives on intermarriage in Europe