Volume 38 - Article 38 | Pages 1111–1154  

The formation of ethnically mixed partnerships in Estonia: A stalling trend from a two-sided perspective

By Allan Puur, Leen Rahnu, Luule Sakkeus, Martin Klesment, Liili Abuladze


Background: Ethnically mixed partnerships are often regarded as the ultimate evidence of the integration of migrants and their descendants into their host society. A common finding in the literature is an increase in the occurrence of mixed partnerships across migrant generations.

Objective: This study investigates the formation of minority–majority partnerships in Estonia, with special attention to the variation associated with the migrants’ generation and their exposure to the majority population.

Methods: The study uses pooled data from the Estonian Family and Fertility Survey (FFS) and the Estonian Generations and Gender Survey (GGS), and estimates proportional hazards models.

Results: The experience of second-generation migrants indicates a stalling trend in the incidence of mixed partnerships between the majority population and migrant groups, which is rooted in contextual features. Apart from residential proximity, the study shows the salience of early acquisition of the host society language. Our results for the majority population highlight the role of international migration, which exposes host populations to mixed partnership formation.

Conclusions: The results lend support to the view that the integration of migrant populations through mixed partnering is a lengthy process that stretches across several generations. A linguistically divided school system and residential segregation contribute to the pillarization of society.

Contribution: By focussing on an Eastern European context, the study contributes to a more comprehensive account of mixed unions in different socioeconomic and cultural settings. Estonia provides an interesting case as its migrant-origin minorities span several generations. The study underscores the importance of contextual factors for both the minority and majority populations.

Author's Affiliation

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