Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between migration and marriage by describing how the distributions of marital statuses and assortative mating patterns vary by individual and community experiences of migration. In Mexico, migrants and those living in areas with high levels of out-migration are more likely to be in heterogamous unions. This is because migration increases the relative attractiveness of single return migrants while disproportionately reducing the number of marriageable men in local marriage markets. In the United States, the odds of homogamy are lower for migrants compared with nonmigrants; however, they do not vary depending on the volume of migration in communities. Migrants are more likely than nonmigrants to “marry up” educationally because the relatively small size of this group compels them to expand their pool of potential spouses to include nonmigrants, who tend to be better educated than they are. Among migrants, the odds of marrying outside of one’s education group increase the most among the least educated. In Mexican communities with high rates of out-migration, the odds of marrying outside of one’s education group are highest among those with the highest level of education. These findings suggest that migration disrupts preferences and opportunities for homogamy by changing social arrangements and normative climates.

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