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Ethnic Intermarriage among Immigrants: Human Capital and Assortative Mating

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  • Chiswick, Barry R.

    ()
    (George Washington University)

  • Houseworth, Christina A.

    ()
    (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the determinants of interethnic marriages among immigrants in the United States. The dependent variable is intermarriage across ethnic groups and the inclusion of the explanatory variables is justified by a simple rational choice economic model. A binomial logistic regression is estimated using data from the 1980 US Census, the last Census where post-migration marriages can be identified. Results show that the probability of intermarriage increases the longer a migrant resides in the U.S. and the younger the age at arrival. Both relationships can be attributable to the accumulation of US-specific human capital and an erosion of ethnic-specific human capital. Inter-ethnic marriages are more likely between individuals with similar education levels, providing evidence of positive assortative mating by education for immigrants. Construction of the availability ratio for potential spouses and group size are unique to this study, providing a more accurate measure of the marriage market by using data from several Censuses. Intermarriage is lower the greater the availability ratio and the larger the size of the group. Linguistic distance indirectly measures the effect of English language ability at arrival and is found to be a significant negative predictor of intermarriage. Those who report multiple ancestries and who were previously married are more likely to intermarry.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3740.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics of the Household, 2011, 9 (2), 149-180
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3740

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Keywords: marriage; ethnicity/ancestry; immigrants;

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References

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  1. Xin Meng & Dominique Meurs, 2009. "Intermarriage, language, and economic assimilation process: A case study of France," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(1/2), pages 127-144, May.
  2. Michèle Belot & Jan Fidrmuc, 2009. "Anthropometry of Love Height and Gender Asymmetries in Interethnic Marriages," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp950, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Evelyn Lehrer, 2008. "Age at marriage and marital instability: revisiting the Becker–Landes–Michael hypothesis," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 463-484, April.
  4. Delia Furtado, 2012. "Human Capital And Interethnic Marriage Decisions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(1), pages 82-93, 01.
  5. Robert G. Wood, 1995. "Marriage Rates and Marriageable Men: A Test of the Wilson Hypothesis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 163-193.
  6. Xin Meng & Robert G. Gregory, 2005. "Intermarriage and the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 135-176, January.
  7. Aycan Çelikaksoy & Helena Nielsen & Mette Verner, 2006. "Marriage migration: just another case of positive assortative matching?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 253-275, 09.
  8. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 11-26 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
  10. Chiswick, Carmel U., 2006. "The Economic Determinants of Ethnic Assimilation," IZA Discussion Papers 2212, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. repec:iza:izadps:dp1142 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Michael J. Brien, 1997. "Racial Differences in Marriage and the Role of Marriage Markets," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 741-778.
  13. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2004. "Linguistic Distance: A Quantitative Measure of the Distance Between English and Other Languages," IZA Discussion Papers 1246, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 299-351 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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