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«Assortative Mating nach ethnischen und Bildungsgesichtspunkten bei Individuen mit Migrationshintergrund in Schweden Abstract: Zusammenfassung: This ...»

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Aycan Çelikaksoy, Lena Nekby & Saman Rashid

Assortative mating by ethnic background and

education among individuals with an immigrant

background in Sweden1

Assortative Mating nach ethnischen und Bildungsgesichtspunkten bei

Individuen mit Migrationshintergrund in Schweden

Abstract: Zusammenfassung:

This paper analyzes the determinants of assorta- In diesem Beitrag werden die Determinanten des

tive mating by ethnicity and education for indi- nach ethnischen und Bildungsgesichtspunkten ausviduals with an immigrant background in Swe- gerichteten Assortative Mating bei Individuen mit den, focusing on the role of individual, marriage Migrationshintergrund in Schweden untersucht, market and parental characteristics. Results indi- indem die Rolle individueller und elterlichen Chacate that higher levels of host country specific rakteristika sowie die des Heiratmarktes in den human capital decrease the likelihood of ethnic Blick genommen werden. Die Ergebnisse legen endogamy and increase the likelihood of educa- nahe, dass ein höheres Niveau des für das Auftional homogamy. Opportunity as measured by nahmeland spezifischen Humankapitals die Wahrsex ratios and relative group size is found to be scheinlichkeit ethnischer Endogamie sinken und positively correlated to both types of assortative die Wahrscheinlichkeit der Bildungshomogamie mating. Parental assortative mating (ethnic/edu- steigen lässt. Gelegenheitsstrukturen, hier gemescational), as a measure of group identity, is found sen anhand der Geschlechterratio und der relativen to increase the likelihood of assortative mating. A Größe der ethnischen Gruppe, sind jedoch positiv comparison of marginal effects, by gender, sug- mit beiden Typen des Assortative Mating korregests that the social boundaries defined by eth- liert. Elterliche Partnerauswahl (nach ethnischen nicity and education in the marriage market are oder Bildungsaspekten) als ein Maß für die ethnisrelatively more easily crossed by men with the che Gruppenidentität erhöht die Wahrscheinlichaccumulation of local and general human capital. keit des Assortative Mating. Ein Vergleich margiLikewise, the influence of group identity appears naler Effekte nach dem Geschlecht legt nahe, dass to matter more for women when marriages are die durch die Ethnizität und das Bildungsniveau based on ethnicity but matter more for men when definierten sozialen Grenzziehungen auf dem Heimarriages are based on education. ratsmarkt von den Männern mit der Akkumulation von örtlichem und allgeme

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1 The authors are grateful for comments from Irena Kogan and two anonymous referees as well as seminar participants at the 2008 REASESS Conference. Financial support from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS) and the Swedish Research Council (VR) is gratefully acknowledged.

Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 22. Jahrg., 2010, Heft 1 – Journal of Family Research 66 A. Çelikaksoy et al.: Assortative mating by ethnic background and education in Sweden

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Key words: assortative mating, immigrant back- Schlagwörter: Assortative Mating, Migrationsground, ethnicity, educational level, marriage hintergrund, Ethnizität, Bildungsniveau, Heiratsmarket, parental characteristics, sex ratio, group markt, elterliche Charakteristika, Geschlechterrasize, gender tio, Gruppengröße, Gender


Sweden has a relatively large immigrant population. Today, approximately fifteen percent of the working age population (16-64) is foreign-born. In addition, another 12 percent of the population is born in Sweden with at least one foreign-born parent. There are three main sources of immigration to Sweden. The first concerns migration from the other Nordic countries, primarily Finland, due to the common Nordic labor market established in

1954. The second concerns labor migrants from Southern and Eastern European countries in the 1950s and 1960s recruited to work in the manufacturing sector, which boomed at the time. The third concerns refugee migration. After the mid-1970s, labor migration became more restrictive and refugee migration (as well as immigration due to family reunification) became the largest source of migration to Sweden. Refugee migration to Sweden stemmed from Hungary in the late 1950s, former Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa in the 1970s, former Yugoslavia (mainly Bosnia-Herzegovina) in the 1990s and Iraq in the early 2000s. In 2005, the five largest immigrant groups in Sweden originated from Finland (15 percent of the foreign born population), Iraq (7 percent), Yugoslavia (6 percent), Iran (5 percent) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (5 percent).

Before the mid-1970s, the foreign born in Sweden had slightly higher average employment levels than natives and similar income levels. Since the mid-1970s, relative employment rates have dropped and a widening immigrant-native employment and income gap has developed over time. Numerous explanations have been forwarded for this shift in relative employment rates, including structural changes in the industrial sector with a shift away from manufacturing jobs, the changing composition of immigrants, the changes in the underlying motivation for migration, skill-biased technological change promoting soft skills such as language and communication, and discrimination against increasingly “visible” immigrants from predominantly non-European countries.2 Lately, attention has turned to how family structure, in particular partnership formation, may influence labor market integration.

2 Note that the shift in immigration in the mid 1970s from predominately labor migration to predominately refugee migration also lead to a shift in the skill composition of the foreign born from relatively unskilled labor migration to relatively skilled refugee migration. Today, the proportion with tertiary educations is approximately the same in the native and foreign born population at roughly 30 percent. See Schröder (2007) for an overview of immigrant-native labor market gaps and integration policy in Sweden.

Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 22. Jahrg., Heft 1/2010, S. 65-88 How individuals sort into household units has potential implications not only for individual outcomes such as fertility, employment and income but also for the development of social and economic inequality between groups over time and across generations. Numerous studies in the social sciences and biology show that partnership formation is more likely to take place among individuals with similar characteristics, so-called positive assortative mating, on characteristics such as education, income, socioeconomic background, ethnicity, religion and religiosity as well as height, weight, IQ, and social class (Epstein/Guttman 1984; Mare 1991; McPherson et al. 2001; Pencavel 1998).

Explanations vary as to why individuals mate assortatively. Economists tend to focus on the efficiency gains arguing that similarity in certain partner characteristics simplifies, for example, joint decision making and the rearing of children (Becker 1974). The degree of assortative mating in different dimensions can however also be seen as a measure of the degree of openness in the social structures of interest. How individuals of different ethnic origin sort into household units in a multicultural society, like Sweden, can be seen as an indicator of the strength and persistence of social boundaries between ethnic groups.

This is important due to the potential long term impact assortative mating has in sustaining economic and social inequality across generations.

The aim of this study is to analyze the determinants of assortative mating patterns along two dimensions, ethnicity and education, for individuals with an immigrant background in Sweden. Immigrant background is defined as being foreign born or born in Sweden with at least one foreign born parent.3 Most studies analyze assortative mating patterns in one dimension only. We argue that it is important to consider different types of assortative mating patterns. Over time and across immigrant generations, assortative mating on the grounds of ascribed characteristics (endogamy) such as ethnicity should decline in importance while the role of attained characteristics (homogamy) such as education become increasingly important (Kalmijn 1991b; Giddens 1993).

In the paper, we study how different factors play a role in determining these two types of assortative mating patterns, focusing on the influence of three broad categories of factors; preferences, opportunity and third party involvement. Preferences reflect the role of individual characteristics in determining different types of partnership formation. Here, focus is on characteristics such as age, education, and immigrant status (first or second generation) and duration of residence. Opportunity reflects the role of marriage market characteristics, i.e., the availability of potential spouses with the characteristics of interest.

Finally, third party involvement concerns the norms and values that can influence marital choice within the social/ethnic group or family to which an individual belongs. Here, focus is on the influence of parental involvement in partnership formation. The intention of this study is therefore to shed light on how individual, marriage market and parental characteristics influence assortative mating by ethnicity and education among first and second generation immigrants in Sweden.

The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. Section 2 provides a brief overview of the research literature on mating patterns and introduces the theoretical background we utilise as well as the hypotheses we intend to test in this paper. This is folThe word immigrant will be used in this study to denote both the foreign born (first generation immigrants) and those born in Sweden with at least one foreign born parent (second generation).

68 A. Çelikaksoy et al.: Assortative mating by ethnic background and education in Sweden lowed by a description of the data and the analytic strategy in Section 3. Results are presented in Section 4 and concluding remarks in Section 5.

1. Literature and theory

1.1 Brief overview of the literature There is a large body of literature on the marriage patterns of different ethnic, immigrant or religious groups.4 These studies document for the United States and Europe that a large proportion of immigrants marry within their ethnic or national group or bring spouses from origin countries (Chiswick/Houseworth 2008; Çelikaksoy 2007; Jasso et al. 2000;

Lievens 1999; Kalmijin 1993). Endogamous marriages, by national background, are often sustained across generations, although at lower rates and with variations across immigrant groups. Individuals with an immigrant background have the option to marry within their ethnic local marriage market (or bring spouses from origin countries) or marry outside their ethnic marriage market, where the main outside option is intermarrying with a member of the indigenous population in the country of residence or someone with another non-indigenous ethnic background.

Studies looking at intra-marriage within different ethnic groups and intermarriages between immigrants and the indigenous population of the country of residence make use of notions developed in the general research on migration, integration and marriage.5 Most studies in this line of research argue that intermarriage is positively associated with the labor market integration of immigrants (Gordon 1964; Lee/Yamanaka 1990; Coleman 1985; Feliciano 2001; Meng/Gregory 2005). One explanation for this correlation is that as immigrants accumulate host country specific human capital, so-called local human capital, such as local language skills, cultural know-how, institutional information and local networks, they develop common characteristics and experiences with other individuals living in that country.6 This implies that the boundaries between groups, such as between ethnic groups in the marriage market, become thinner. Ethnic endogamy rates are therefore expected to be negatively correlated with individual characteristics such as immigrant generation, education and years since migration. Indeed, as individuals have higher levels of country specific human capital, the social boundaries defining different marriage markets such as by ethnicity or immigrant background, loose their strength for all parties involved in the decision making process.

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