Will You Intermarry Me? Determinants and Consequences of Immigrant-Native Intermarriage in Contemporary Nordic Settings

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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This dissertation examines the determinants and consequences of immigrant-native intermarriage in two Nordic countries, Sweden and Denmark, between 1980 and 2011. An increase in immigration during the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first century in the countries under study was accompanied by an increase in intermarriage. However, the marriages of natives and some immigrant groups are more frequent than others, which may indicate that the strength of the immigrant-native boundary differs between immigrant groups. In contrast to previous research, this dissertation focuses on the perspectives of both the immigrants and the native majority and attempts to answer the following questions: who crosses the immigrant-native boundary through marriage, is immigrant-native intermarriage of a special nature, and does immigrant-native intermarriage contribute to successful integration.

This dissertation is a compilation of four papers, each of which is a quantitative study of the determinants or consequences of intermarriage that relies on register data collected by the administrative authorities in the countries in question. The findings of this dissertation show that for natives both economic and non-economic status in the marriage market are associated with intermarriage. Moreover, patterns of age-assortative mating differ in intermarriages and in marriages of the native majority. For both Swedish men and women, unions in which the partner is considerably younger are relatively more frequent among immigrant-native intermarriages. The findings also suggest that the larger age gap between men and women in intermarriages is not only related to the differential treatment of certain immigrant groups in the Swedish marriage market but also partly the result of racial discrimination.
Intermarriage nevertheless is related to immigrant integration. The findings from this dissertation show that intermarriage leads to positive income development for intermarried immigrants, particularly for immigrants whose country of origin means that they would otherwise experience difficulties in the labour market. With respect to demographic integration, intermarried immigrants deviate strongly from endogamous immigrants. While immigrants of certain origins display fertility patterns which confirm the existence of son preferences, immigrants from the same origins who are in unions with natives do not show such patterns by and large.

This dissertation shows how immigrant-native intermarriage is connected with the broader social structure. An increase in immigrant-native intermarriage reflects the openness of a society to a certain degree. However, the findings of this dissertation also show that intermarriage is related to the social structure in a particular way. Intermarriage cannot only be regarded as a reflection of the successful structural assimilation of immigrants because intermarriage patterns also reflect social stratification. Intermarriages with some immigrant groups show systematically different patterns of assortative mating, which indicates the differential treatment of certain immigrant groups in the marriage market.
Original languageEnglish
  • Dribe, Martin, Supervisor
  • Edling, Christofer, Supervisor
Award date2018 Apr 3
ISBN (Print)978-91-87793-40-0
ISBN (electronic) 978-91-87793-41-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2018-04-03
Time: 10:15
Place: Holger Crafoord Centre EC3:210
External reviewer
Name: Lichter, Daniel
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Cornell University

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic History

Free keywords

  • intermarriage
  • assortative mating
  • racial discrimination
  • immigrant integration


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