Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Lund Papers in Economic History,
Lund University, Department of Economic History

No 147: Opposites Attract – Evidence of Status Exchange in Ethnic Intermarriages in Sweden

Annika Elwert ()
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Annika Elwert: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This study raises the question of how marriage market relevant status characteristics are distributed among partners in exogamous relationships. The status exchange hypothesis posits that partners in racially and ethnically heterogamous relationships trade status characteristics, mainly education. We address this hypothesis focusing on intermarriages between immigrants and native men (N=606,257) and women (N=600,165) in Sweden using register data covering the entire Swedish population for the period 1990 to 2009. Results from binomial and multinomial logistic regressions show that low status in terms of age, income, and previous relationships are determinants for exogamy, and that the main marriage market relevant status that is exchanged is age, not education. This holds particularly for immigrants from certain countries of origin such as for wives from Asia and Africa and husbands from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Swedish men and women show surprisingly large symmetry in status exchange patterns

Keywords: Interethnic marriage; Immigration/Migrant families; Ethnicity; Western European families

JEL-codes: J12; J15; Z13

34 pages, June 15, 2016

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