Intermarriage and mortality: evidence from Sweden

Karen Haandrikman, Stockholm University
Ognjen Obucina, Stockholm University

The goal of this paper is to analyze the association between mortality and living in mixed marriage in Sweden and thus contribute to the knowledge on intermarriage by tackling a topic that has rarely been addressed in previous research. In this analysis, intermarriage is defined as a marriage between a Swedish-born and a foreign-born person. Linking the existing knowledge on intermarriage and socio-economic determinants of mortality we propose two (not necessarily competing) hypotheses. The first hypothesis (“convergence hypothesis”, a term borrowed from the research on divorce risk in intermarriages) is based on evidence showing ethnic differences in mortality and states that the risk of mortality for individuals living in a mixed marriage will be in between the mortality risks of the ethnicities involved in the intermarriage. The second hypothesis is based on the evidence that intermarriages are on average characterized by a lower level of relationship quality and less social support from third parties and states that due to a higher level of marital stress individuals living in mixed marriages are exposed to a higher mortality risk, all else equal. The data are drawn from the Swedish registers compiled in the STAR (“Sweden over Time: Activities and Relations”) database. The analysis covers the period between 1991 and 2007. Cox proportional hazard models will be used to examine the association between being in a mixed marriage and individual mortality. The principal variable of interest is the type of marriage, as defined by nativity of each partner (native-native, immigrant-immigrant or immigrant-native) and the reference category are Swedish-born individuals married to Swedish-born partners. The multivariate model controls for a wide range of individual socio-economic characteristics, partner’s characteristics as well as for a possible influence of contextual factors (such as ethnic composition in the municipality of residence).

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Presented in Session 115: Multiple aspects of mortality and health