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Immigration and Status Exchange in Australia and the United States

  • Choi, Kate H.


    (Princeton University)

  • Tienda, Marta


    (Princeton University)

  • Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.


    (University of Melbourne)

  • Sinning, Mathias


    (Australian National University)

The claim that marriage is a venue for status exchange of achieved traits, like education, and ascribed attributes, notably race and ethnic membership, has regained traction in the social stratification literature. Most studies that consider status exchanges ignore birthplace as a social boundary for status exchanges via couple formation. This paper evaluates the status exchange hypothesis for Australia and the United States, two Anglophone nations with long immigration traditions whose admission regimes place different emphases on skills. A log-linear analysis reveals evidence of status exchange in the United States among immigrants with lower levels of education and mixed nativity couples with foreign-born husbands. Partly because Australian educational boundaries are less sharply demarcated at the postsecondary level, we find is weaker evidence for the status exchange hypothesis. Australian status exchanges across nativity boundaries usually involve marriages between immigrant spouses with a postsecondary credential below a college degree and native-born high school graduates.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5750.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 2012, 30 (1), 49-62
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5750
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  1. Aaron Gullickson, 2006. "Education and black-white interracial marriage," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(4), pages 673-689, November.
  2. Gary P. Freeman & Bob Birrell, 2001. "Divergent Paths of Immigration Politics in the United States and Australia," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(3), pages 525-551.
  3. Christine Schwartz & Robert Mare, 2005. "Trends in educational assortative marriage from 1940 to 2003," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(4), pages 621-646, November.
  4. Hainmueller, Jens & Hiscox, Michael J., 2007. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(02), pages 399-442, April.
  5. Deborah Cobb-Clark & Trong-Ha Nguyen, 2010. "Immigration Background and the Intergenerational Correlation in Education," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2010n09, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  6. Paul W. Miller, 1999. "Immigration Policy and Immigrant Quality: The Australian Points System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 192-197, May.
  7. Marta Tienda, 2002. "Demography and the social contract," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 587-616, November.
  8. Florencia Torche, 2010. "Educational assortative mating and economic inequality: A comparative analysis of three Latin American countries," Demography, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 481-502, May.
  9. Genevieve Heard, 2011. "Socioeconomic Marriage Differentials in Australia and New Zealand," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 37(1), pages 125-160, 03.
  10. Vincent Fu, 2001. "Racial intermarriage pairings," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 147-159, May.
  11. Frances Woolley, 2000. "Control over Money in Marriage," Carleton Economic Papers 00-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2003.
  12. Zhenchao Qian, 1997. "Breaking the racial barriers: Variations in interracial marriage between 1980 and 1990," Demography, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 263-276, May.
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