Education and Interethnic Marriage Decisions

Delia Furtado, Brown University

Interethnic marriages are generally accepted as both a major catalyst for and result of the intergenerational assimilation of immigrants. However, the positive relationship between education and the probability of intermarriage for second-generation immigrants is not well understood. This paper provides three possible explanations for this relationship. First, education increases the probability that immigrants leave their ethnic enclaves, making it more difficult to meet possible spouses of the same ethnicity. Second, assortative matching on education implies that more educated individuals are willing to sacrifice ethnic traits in a spouse for intellectual attributes. Third, education makes immigrants better able to adapt to the customs of the native culture. A theoretical model of household formation and decision-making is used to derive empirical tests for the relative merits of these three explanations. Using IPUMS, I find that assortative matching on education is the most important avenue through which education affects the probability of intermarriage.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Union Formation and Dissolution and Parents' Living Arrangements