A new look into mix-marriages. The role of market constraints in Spain

Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Ognjen Obucina, Stockholm University
Clara Cortina, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Teresa Castro Martin, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

This study investigates formation of endogamous and exogamous marriages among immigrants and natives in Spain, combining data from National Immigrant Survey (2007) and Marriages Register (2008). First, it focuses on the immigrants’ patterns of exogamous versus endogamous marriages by introducing marriage market constraints indicators and some immigrant-specific factors, apart from the usual socio-demographic controls. The obtained results indicate a strongly gendered pattern in the intermarriage dynamic. First of all, educational level and age at amigrationappeared irrelevant in explaining the intermarriage propensity of immigrant women, while higher education clearly increased the propensity to intermarriage with native women among immigrant men, and the likelihood of intermarriage tended to decrease as the immigrant man’s ages. And thirdly, indicators for immigrants’ marriage market constraints, which have been added to the analyses of union formation among immigrants for the first time in Spain to our knowledge, revealed to be important only for women but non-significant for men. Secondly, the role of marriage market structure is considered also a crucial driver of natives’ patterns of exogamy. By identifying and measuring the main imbalances in both the male and female immigrant and native marriage markets, we were able to formulate relatively precise expectations regarding the role that the status homogamy and the status exchange approaches might be playing in the intermarriage landscape in Spain. And the empirical analysis developed for male and female natives’ choices largely supported them. First of all, the status exchange hypotheses systematically fail to explain propensity to intermarriage of Spanish natives when the exchange had to operate to high(er) educational and/or occupational level on behalf the immigrant partner. However, some nuances could be introduced if exchange was allowed for other traits like younger age of the immigrant partners, especially immigrant men.

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Presented in Session 101: Comparative perspectives on intermarriage in Europe