Volume 45 - Article 34 | Pages 1041–1080

Partner selection patterns in transition: The case of Turkish and Moroccan minorities in Belgium

By Amelie Van Pottelberge, Frank Caestecker, Bart Van de Putte, John Lievens

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Date received:26 May 2020
Date published:05 Nov 2021
Word count:8660
Keywords:ethnic minorities, marriage, partner choice, partner selection, remarriage


Background: The majority of Turkish and Moroccan minorities in Western Europe prefer transnational marriages over local co-ethnic and mixed marriages. Recent studies indicate partner selection patterns might be shifting after remaining unchanged for decades. However, it remains unclear to what extent changes observed in earlier studies have continued to carry on.

Objective: This paper provides a comprehensive insight into the most recent partner selection trends of Turkish and Moroccan minorities in Belgium and assesses whether and to what degree known dynamics related to marriage age and educational attainment may change.

Methods: The Belgian National Register data are analyzed, including all Turkish and Moroccan minority members who married between 2005 and 2015 (N = 91,916). After describing the prevalence of three partner types and their trends, multinomial logistic regressions estimate the effect of marriage age and educational attainment on partner choice.

Results: The prevalence of transnational marriages declines for all minority members. Local co-ethnic marriages mostly absorb this decline, but a strong increase in mixed marriages is also observed. The influence of marriage age and educational attainment on partner choice has changed over the last 15 years.

Conclusions: Results reveal a strong decline in transnational marriages, reinforced by stricter immigration policies but initiated by other – possibly attitudinal – mechanisms. Dynamics regarding ethnic endogamy are subject to change as mixed marriages are also increasing among women and the lower educated.

Contribution: The comprehensive overview given in this paper reveals significant changes in partner selection. These changes influence immigration from Turkey and Morocco, demographic characteristics of the minority groups, and their relationship to non-co-ethnics.

Author's Affiliation

Amelie Van Pottelberge - Ghent University, Belgium [Email]
Frank Caestecker - Ghent University, Belgium [Email]
Bart Van de Putte - Ghent University, Belgium [Email]
John Lievens - Ghent University, Belgium [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Family size and intergenerational social mobility during the fertility transition: Evidence of resource dilution from the city of Antwerp in nineteenth century Belgium
Volume 24 - Article 14

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