Mixing and matching on the marriage market: determinants of mixed marriages of European and non-European migrants in Belgium

Suzana M. Koelet, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Helga A. G. de Valk, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Most of the research on intermarriage in Europe concentrates on studying marriage behavior from lower educated, mostly non-European labor migration. Free movement and mobility in an integrating European Union has however created a very different type of intra-European migration that is often not accounted for. We use 2001 Belgian Census data and apply multinomial logistic regression analysis to explore the differences in odds for Europeans and non-Europeans in Belgium to marry either uni-nationally or bi-nationally. In the case of bi-national marriages a further distinction is made between marriages to a native partner, a European partner or a non-European partner. The direct comparison between Europeans and non-Europeans in the analysis allows us to test the generality of findings of traditional intermarriage research for the specific group of European migrants. European and non-European bi-national marriages are identified based on country of birth of the partners, a discriminator used by preference in intermarriage research. First results show amongst other how the odds to marry a native partner for a European living in Belgium do not unequivocally rise with education, as in the case of non-European migrants. The relation between education and intermarriage describes rather an inverted U-shape with low intermarriage rates at both ends of the educational ladder. Another interesting conclusion is that a typical determinant of intermarriage like group size of the own nationality group in the host country, is less important for the partner choice of European partners than for non-European partners. Europeans on the other hand are more likely to be influenced by the educational imbalance in their own origin group while making partner choices.

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Presented in Session 51: Intermarriage