Disentangling union formation patterns of Moroccans in Spain

Albert Esteve, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Edurne Jimenez, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

This paper examines competing hypothesis regarding union formation and intermarriage patterns of Moroccans in Spain consistent with the classical and segmented assimilation and the social exchange theoretical frameworks. Most research on union formation patterns of international migrants has regarded the prevalence of intermarriage as a key indicator of structural assimilation. In the last two decades, Spain has become a country of international immigration. Moroccans have been by large the most important flow of international migrants to Spain. They are often portrayed as a closed community where intermarriage rarely occurs and where social and cultural norms, based on their religious beliefs, are strongly enforced. This vision contrasts with the fact that according to the 2001 Spanish census, 45,6 % of Moroccan men that were in union were married to a Spanish born and citizen. Females show a similar but slightly lower proportion, 42,4%. Faced with this evidence, we examine the prevalence of intermarriage of Moroccan population with special attention to gender and regional variations, which, after controlling for demographic characteristics and marriage market constraints, permit us to tease out the effects of cultural norms. Our data come from the 5 % Spanish sample of census microdata for 2001, from which we have selected all households with at least one Moroccan. Moroccans are defined according to their country of birth, citizenship and parental birthplace. We provide a critical assessment of the main drawbacks in the existing Spanish official statistics and, more specifically, in the census. We estimate two models. The first predicts the likelihood of being in union and the second predicts the likelihood of being in an intermarried union with Spanish born and citizens. Although our main interest is in intermarriage, the likelihood of being in union is also relevant to understand full patterns of union formation.

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Presented in Session 4: Migrant Demographic Behaviour: Nuptiality