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Mixed marriages between immigrants and natives in Spain: The gendered effect of marriage market constraints


  • Amparo González-Ferrer

    (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC))

  • Ognjen Obućina

    (Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED))

  • Clara Cortina

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

  • Teresa Castro-Martín

    (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC))


Background: Spain has become an important immigrant destination relatively recently. Marriages between natives and immigrants are among the most important agents of social and cultural change in contemporary Spanish society. Objective: This study’s aim is to analyse the propensity to enter mixed-nativity marriages among both natives and immigrants in Spain, focusing on the roles played by both individual and marriage market characteristics. Methods: The study combines data from the National Immigrant Survey (2007) and the Marriages Register (2008). Multivariate analysis is based on multinomial logistic regression, with an event history approach for immigrants and cross-sectional approach for natives. Results: Immigrant groups, and particularly immigrant men, differ considerably in their propensity to intermarry. Education is positively associated with exogamy among immigrant men but is not an important predictor of intermarriage among immigrant women. By contrast, the marriage market structure is more important for immigrant women than men. The analysis for natives shows only limited support for the exchange hypothesis. Educational exchange can be observed in the mixed marriages of native women with some immigrant groups but is observed much less often for native men. Age difference within the couple is more frequently consistent with some sort of exchange between immigrant and native partners. Conclusions: Our results suggest that there is not one marriage market but several for different groups and that the patterns of native/immigrant marriage in Spain are strongly gendered. Contribution: This is the first study on intermarriage in Spain to look at both natives and immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Amparo González-Ferrer & Ognjen Obućina & Clara Cortina & Teresa Castro-Martín, 2018. "Mixed marriages between immigrants and natives in Spain: The gendered effect of marriage market constraints," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 39(1), pages 1-32.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:39:y:2018:i:1
    DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2018.39.1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barry Chiswick & Christina Houseworth, 2011. "Ethnic intermarriage among immigrants: human capital and assortative mating," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 149-180, June.
    2. Coviello, Vincenzo & Boggess, May, 2004. "Cumulative incidence estimation in the presence of competing risks," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(2), pages 1-10.
    3. Matthijs Kalmijn & Frank Tubergen, 2010. "A comparative perspective on intermarriage: Explaining differences among national-origin groups in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(2), pages 459-479, May.
    4. Vincenzo Coviello & May Boggess, 2004. "Cumulative incidence estimation in the presence of competing risks," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(2), pages 103-112, June.
    5. 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, March.
    6. Kantarevic, Jasmin, 2004. "Interethnic Marriages and Economic Assimilation of Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1142, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. 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.
    8. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
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    More about this item


    marriage; immigrants; natives; event history analysis; marriage market; Spain;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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