The Importance of Linguistic Homogamy in (Inter)Marriages: Insights from a Multilingual Country

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Julia SCHROEDTER, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Joerg ROESSEL, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Factors that hinder intermarriage between individuals of different ethnicities or nationalities can often be subsumed under the header of culture. Differences in cultural norms, religious beliefs and more general values, for instance, are among those factors known to impede partnerships between members of different ethnic or national groups. Language is also one of the key cultural factors influencing partner choice and marriage behavior. Contrary to many other cultural features, the effect of the language, or more precisely that of the mother tongue, can hardly be separated from the effect of nationality alone. In this article, we aim to disentangle partially the influence of the “culture” on bi-national marriages as we disjointedly analyze the effect of linguistic and national homogamy. We use the multilingual country of Switzerland as a test case as it allows differentiating marital unions to co-nationals and non-nationals, each with the same or a different mother tongue. Our results suggest that, in addition to spatial barriers, linguistic differences are the largest obstacles to ethnic or national intermarriage. Accordingly, linguistic homogamy plays a major role in bi-national partner choice which is only then followed by religious homogamy, age similarity and educational homogamy.