Interethnic marriage: the relationships between education, race, and immigrant generation

Nikolaos Theodoropoulos, University of Cyprus
Delia Furtado, University of Connecticut

This paper examines the effect of education on intermarriage and specifically, whether the mechanisms through which education affects intermarriage differ by race and immigrant generation. We consider three main paths through which education affects marriage choice. First, educated people may be better able to adapt to different customs and cultures making them more likely to marry natives. Second, educated immigrants may be more likely to move out of their ethnic enclaves because, for example, they have wider geographic labor markets, again making them more likely to meet and so marry natives. Lastly, if spouse-searchers value similarities in education as well as ethnicity, then an increase in education may lead to more or less endogamy depending on their ethnic group’s education distribution in the city in which they live. Using 2000 U.S. Census data, we find evidence for all three effects for the population in general. However, assortative matching on education seems to be relatively more important for the native born, for the foreign born that arrived at a fairly young age, and for racial groups that are very education-oriented. We present a number of robustness checks and discuss policy implications.

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Presented in Session 32: Mixed-ethnic unions in Europe and second generation union formation