, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 449–476 | Cite as

International Migration and Educational Assortative Mating in Mexico and the United States



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.


International migration Marriage Educational assortative mating 



This research used the facilities of the California Center for Population Research, which is supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Population Association of America in New York. The authors thank Christine Schwartz, Esther Friedman, Pamela Stoddard, and JenjiraYahirun for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Bendheim Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, Wallace HallPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of California-Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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