Ethnic Intermarriage among Immigrants: Human Capital and Assortative Mating

Barry R. Chiswick, University of Illinois at Chicago
Christina Houseworth, Litigation Analytics

This paper analyzes the determinants of interethnic marriages among immigrants in the United States. The unit of observation is adult foreign-born men and women from the 1980 Census Public Use Microdata Series, the last Census to ask age at first marriage. A model of rational economic behavior is used to generate hypotheses regarding the determinants of intermarriage. Age at migration, duration in the U.S., educational attainment, times married, veteran status and spouse's veteran status, and several marriage market variables are analyzed. The 1960 to 1980 Censuses are used to create relevant marriage market variables. Because of the potential endogeneity of current earnings and English language proficiency, these variables are not included. A measure of the linguistic distance of the respondent's mother tongue from English is entered as a proxy for the respondent's proficiency in English when they were in the marriage market. The hypotheses are found to be consistent with the data.

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Presented in Session 178: Comparative Perspectives on Union Formation