We gain insight into the dynamics of ethnic intermarriage in times of social change by studying marriages between Latvians and Russians (including Belarussians and Ukrainians) that occurred in Latvia before and after independence from the Soviet Union. Before independence, ethnic intermarriage was already rather common, involving about 17% of the marriages annually. Since independence, intermarriage between Russians and Latvians has increased substantially. Part of this increase can be explained by selective emigration, but at least half of it may be due to integrative processes. Although there were more marriages between Russian men and Latvian women before independence, the gender pattern reversed after independence. Intermarriage levels were the highest among the less educated, children of mixed couples, partners with similar educational levels, and people in the countryside.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Aasland, A. and T. Flotten. 2001. “Ethnicity and Social Exclusion in Estonia and Latvia.” Europe-Asia Studies 53:1023–50.
Agresti, A. 2002. Categorical Data Analysis. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Alba, R. and R.M. Golden. 1986. “Patterns of Ethnic Marriage in the United States.” Social Forces 65:202–23.
Blau, P.M. and J.E. Schwartz. 1984. Crosscutting Social Circles. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
Boguszak, M. and M. Bozon. 1989. “L’Homogamie Sociale en Tchécoslovaquie” [Social homogamy in Czechoslovakia]. Population 44:198–209.
Botev, N. 1994. “Where East Meets West: Ethnic Intermarriage in the Former Yugoslavia, 1962 to 1989.” American Sociological Review 59:461–80.
— 2002. “The Ethnic Composition of Families in Russia in 1989: Insights Into the Soviet ’Nationalities Policy.’” Population and Development Review 24:681–706.
Codagnone, C. 1998. New Migration and Migration Politics in Post-Soviet Russia. Ethnobarometer Working Paper Series No. 2. CSS/CEMES, Roma.
Coleman, D. 1985. “Ethnic Intermarriage in Great Britain.” Population Trends 40:4–10.
Drachsler, J. 1921. Intermarriage in New York City: A Statistical Study of the Amalgamation of European Peoples. New York: Columbia University Press.
Evans, G. and A. Need. 2002. “Explaining Ethnic Polarization Over Attitudes Towards Minority Rights in Eastern Europe: A Multilevel Analysis.” Social Science Research 31:653–80.
Ezera, L. 1999. “The Development of Ethnic Assimilation in Latvia in the 1990s.” Humanities and Social Sciences Latvia 3(24):83–96.
Fisher, W.A. 1980. The Soviet Marriage Market: Mate-Selection in Russia and the USSR. New York: Praeger.
Gordon, M.M. 1964. Assimilation in American Life. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Grigorievs, A. 1996. “The Baltic Predicament.” Pp. 120–37 in Europe’s New Nationalism, edited by R. Caplan and J. Feffer. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Gündüz-Hosgör, A. and J. Smits. 2002. “Intermarriage Between Turks and Kurds in Contemporary Turkey.” European Sociological Review 18:417–32.
Jansen, C. 1982. “Inter-ethnic Marriages.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 23: 225–35.
Johnson, R. 1980. Religious Assortative Marriage in the United States. New York: Academic Press.
Jones, F. 1991. “Ethnic Intermarriage in Australia, 1950–52 to 1980–82: Models or Indices?“ Population Studies 45:27–42.
Kalmijn, M. 1991. “Shifting Boundaries, Trends in Religious and Educational Homogamy.” American Sociological Review 56:786–800.
— 1993. “Trends in Black/White Intermarriage.” Social Forces 72:119–46.
— 1998. “Intermarriage and Homogamy: Causes, Patterns, Trends.” Annual Review of Sociology 25:395–421.
Karklins, R. 1986. Ethnic Relations in the USSR: The Perspective From Below. Boston: Allen and Unwin.
Kennedy, R.J.R. 1944. “Single or Triple Melting Pot? Intermarriage Trends in New Haven.” American Journal of Sociology 49:331–39.
Latvian Central Bureau of Statistics. 2002a. Demographic Yearbook of Latvia. Riga: CSP.
—. 2002b. Results of the 2000 Population and Housing Census in Latvia. Riga: CSP.
—. 2004. Demographic Yearbook of Latvia. Riga: CSP.
Lee, S.M. 1988. “Intermarriage and Ethnic Relations in Singapore.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 50:255–65.
Lieberson, S. and M. Waters. 1988. From Many Strands: Ethnic and Racial Groups in Contemporary America. New York: Russell Sage.
Lieven, A. 1993. The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Path to Independence. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Lu, H. and R. Wong. 1998. “Cohort Trends in Educational and Ethnic Intermarriage of Taiwan.” Pp. 431–61 in Proceedings of the Conference on Social Stratification and Mobility: Newly Industrializing Economies Compared. Taipei: Academia Sinica.
Mare, R.D. 1991. “Five Decades of Educational Assortative Mating.” American Sociological Review 56:15–32.
Mediju Tilts. 2001. “Content Analysis of Mass Media: Press.” Report for the Naturalization Board of the Republic of Latvia (LRNP). Mediju Tilts & LRNP, Riga.
Merton, R.K. 1941. “Intermarriage and Social Structure: Fact and Theory.” Psychiatry 4:361–74.
Mezs, I., E. Bunkse, and K. Rasa. 1994. “The Ethno-Demographic Status of the Baltic States.” Geo Journal 33:9–25.
Misiunas, R. and R. Taagerpera. 1993. The Baltic States; Years of Dependence 1940–1990. London:Hurst.
Muñoz-Perez, F. and M. Tribalat. 1984. “Marriages d’Étrangers et Marriages Mixtes en France” [Marriages of strangers and mixed marriages in France]. Population 44:427–62.
Prikulis, J. 1997. “Migration and Repatriation Issues in Post-Soviet Countries: The Latvian Case.” NATO Research Fellowship Report. Riga. Available on-line at http://www.nato.int/acad/fellow/ 95–97/prikulis.pdf
Qian, Z. 1997. “Breaking the Racial Barriers: Variations in Interracial Marriage Between 1980 and 1990.” Demography 34:263–76.
Raftery, A.E. 1986. “Choosing Models for Cross-Classifications.” American Sociological Review 51:145–46.
— 1995. “Bayesian Model Selection in Social Research.” Sociological Methodology 25: 111–63.
Schoen, R. and J. Wooldredge. 1989. “Marriage Choices in North Carolina and Virginia, 1969–71 and 1979–81.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 51:465–81.
Smits, J. 2002. “Ethnic Intermarriage and Social Cohesion: What Can We Learn From Yugoslavia?” Unpublished manuscript. Available on-line at http://home.planet.nl/~smits.jeroen
Susokolov, A.A. 1987. Mezhnatsionalnye Braki v SSSR [International marriages in the USSR]. Moscow: Mysl.
Ultee, W., J. Dessens, and J. Jansen. 1988. “Why Does Unemployment Come in Couples?” European Sociological Review 4:111–22.
Uš ackis, U. 1995. “The Demographic Situation in Latvia: A Statistical View.” Humanities and Social Sciences Latvia 2(7):4–16.
Zaagman, R. 1999. Conflict Prevention in the Baltic States: The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Flensburg: European Centre for Minority Issues.
Zvidrinš, P. 1998. Latvijas Iedzivot aju Etnisk a Sast ava Izmainas 90. Gados [Changes of ethnic structure in Latvia in the 1990s]. Riga: LU Demogr afijas Centrs.
Zvidrinš, P., L. Ezera, and A. Greitans. 1998. Fertility and Family Surveys in Countries of the ECE Region, Standard Country Report: Latvia. Geneva: United Nations.
Zvidrinš, P. and I. Vanovska. 1992. Latvieš i: Statistiski Demogrāfisks Protretejums [Latvians: Statistical demographic portrait]. Riga: Zinā tne.
We thank the UNECE Population Analysis Unit for permission to use the standard country file of the LFFS data. We also thank Peteris ZvidrinŠ and Aigars Greitans (University of Latvia) for permission to use additional LFFS data on partner’s ethnicity and for providing the original LFFS questionnaire and Uldis UŠ ackis (Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia) for providing us with annual marriage tables and migration data.
About this article
Cite this article
Monden, C.W.S., Smits, J. Ethnic intermarriage in times of social change: The case of latvia. Demography 42, 323–345 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2005.0015
- Marriage Market
- Social Exchange Theory
- Soviet Period
- Mixed Marriage
- Ethnic Relation