Volume 39 - Article 17 | Pages 487–524  

Co-ethnic marriage versus intermarriage among immigrants and their descendants: A comparison across seven European countries using event-history analysis

By Tina Hannemann, Hill Kulu, Leen Rahnu, Allan Puur, Mihaela Hărăguş, Ognjen Obućina, Amparo González-Ferrer, Karel Neels, Layla Van den Berg, Ariane Pailhé, Gina Potarca, Laura Bernardi


Background: Immigrants and their descendants often marry a co-ethnic partner despite the abundance of native-born marriage candidates. The prevalence of co-ethnic marriages and intermarriage among migrants is influenced by their integration level and cultural background as much as individual preferences and structural factors.

Objective: This paper expands existing literature on intermarriage by analysing first marriages across European countries, distinguishing marriage type (endogamous versus exogamous) and migrant generations (immigrants versus their descendants).

Methods: Data from seven countries was aggregated using the count-data method and was subsequently pooled and analysed together; first, to estimate unadjusted first marriage rates; second, to calculate marriage risks separately by marriage type; and, finally, to directly compare the risk of exogamous and endogamous marriage.

Results: There are substantial differences in the prevalence of co-ethnic marriage and intermarriage across the migrant groups. Migrants from non-EU countries often show a high prevalence of co-ethnic marriages and a low risk of intermarriage, whereas migrants from neighbouring countries show a relatively high risk of intermarriage.

Conclusions: Ethnic background and early socialisation have strong impacts on the partner choice of migrants and their descendants. The results suggest a strong influence of minority subcultures for some migrant groups, but also intergenerational adaptation processes for others.

Contribution: This paper provides an up-to-date comparison of intermarriage rates across seven European countries and two migrant generations, presenting evidence of both similarities and differences across countries.

Author's Affiliation

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