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Trends and Patterns of Interethnic Parnerships and Well-being of Mixed Ethnic Children in the EU

Final Report Summary - INTERMARRIAGE IN EU (Trends and Patterns of Interethnic Parnerships and Well-being of Mixed Ethnic Children in the EU)

This project aims to conduct a cross-national analysis of interethnic partnerships in the European Union (EU). The study focuses on partnerships (both marriage and cohabitation) between natives (native-born members of majority population in the host society) and immigrants because interethnic union has long been regarded as an indicator of immigrants’ integration. This research explores two main themes: 1) trends and patterns of interethnic partnerships; and 2) socioeconomic well-being of offspring of interethnic unions.

The major work done to realise the objectives of the project is as follows:
1) Literature review of empirical studies of interethnic partnerships in various European countries.
2) Empirical analysis of interethnic partnership formation and outcomes of mixed ethnic children using both cross-sectional and longitudinal data mainly from the UK (due to data availability and quality).

The main findings of the project can be summarized as follows:

1) Trends and patterns of interethnic partnerships

• Immigrants with the following characteristics have higher chance of forming an interethnic partnership with a native member:
− Born in the host country or immigrated to the host country at young age
− Having mixed ethnic background (one native-born parent and one immigrant parent)
− Having higher educational qualification
− Living in a residential area with higher number of native population
− Having no religion
− Coming from a cultural background where arranged marriage is not commonly practiced
• Interethnic partnerships tend to be formed in the following contexts:
− Cohabitation or remarriage as opposed to first marriage
− Partnerships formed in recent periods e.g. more common in the 1990s as compared to the 1950s

2) Wellbeing of offspring of interethnic unions

• Children of two immigrant parents have poorer outcomes than children of two nativeborn parents
− Poorer access to health services
− Lower cognitive scores (based on vocabularly and numeracy tests designed for young children)
− Lower chance of being in employment
• Mixed ethnic children (children of one native-born parent and one immigrant parent) have similar outcomes to children of two native-born parents

These results suggest that interethnic partnerships do not occur at random. The likelihood for an immigrant to form a union with a native partner depends on individual, community and macro-structural factors. Individually, those who are socioeconomically integrated (e.g. have high education and live in non-ethnically segregated neighbourhood) and have been socialized in the host country context (e.g. the second generation) are more likely to have a native spouse. The results also show that interethnic partnerships are becoming more common in European society especially with the rise of the number of second generation and mixed ethnic children.

The analysis of the outcomes of mixed ethnic children shows that they are less disadvantaged than children of two immigrant parents. This is because mixed ethnic children benefit from growing up with 1) an immigrant parent who is relatively integrated; and 2) a native parent who naturally possesses human, cultural and social capital of the host country. Mixed ethnic children thus achieve similar outcomes to children of two native-born parents.