The Role of Neighborhood and Work-Place in the Formation of Ethnically Mixed Partnerships: Evidence from Finland 1999-2014

Leen Rahnu, Estonian Institute for Population Studies, Tallinn University
Allan Puur, Estonian Institute for Population Studies, Tallinn University
Tiit Tammaru, University of Tartu

The formation of ethnically mixed partnerships hinges on many factors that relate to people and places of encounter. We ask whether the probability to start co-habiting or marital union with non-Finnish partner (ie a person whose country of origin is not Finland) is shaped, in addition to other factors, by ethnic composition of one’s neighborhood and place of work. Our study is based on a longitudinal Finnish register data that cover all residents who ever lived in Finland during 1999-2014. Unlike many register-based studies, we focus on natives instead of immigrants. We do so since register data remains blind in the true partnership status of immigrants making it difficult to estimate the at-risk immigrant population for the formation of mixed ethnic partnerships. Our research population is formed by the adult single Finns aged 18 and over. We will employ the event history models separately for Finnish men and women. We find support to the assumption that the propensity to form first partnership with non-Finnish partner is higher for those Finns who live in areas where the proportion of other ethnic groups is higher. Similarly, working in ethnically more diverse enterprise increases the probability of forming mixed partnership. Individual characteristics such as having foreign-born parents, having minority (Swedish) language as a first tongue, having an experience of living in another country, all increase the propensity of forming ethnically mixed partnership. However, controlling for individual and other contextual characteristics only slightly diminishes the contrasts observed in the domains of neighborhood and work-place. This study contributes to previous research because to our knowledge it is not common that studies about mixed partnerships focus on the impact of work-place or model work-place and neighborhood together. We expect to share light on the mechanisms how different domains of encounter facilitate inter-ethnic partnerships.

Introduction

Growingethnic diversity in Europe has been accompanied with relatively wide scholarlyinterest on the relations between migrant and native population. One of theimportant dimensions of this research is the study of ethnically mixedpartnerships. The occurrence of these partnerships depends on the availabilityof contacts between different population groups. Since Finland started toreceive considerable number of migrants somewhat later than other Scandinavian countries,the research on ethnically mixed partnerships in Finland is also relativelyrecent. However, in past two decades the proportion of migrant population hasincreased from less than two percent to nearly 5 % of the total population in Finland.At the same time the proportion of Finns who have a partner from differentethnic group has also slightly increased. This suggests that it is time to applyquantitative approach to share light on the mechanisms how the ethnically mixedpartnerships spread in Finland.

Researchgoal

We ask whether the probability to start co-habiting or maritalunion with non-Finnish partner (i.e. a person whose country of origin is notFinland) is shaped, in addition to other factors, by ethnic composition of one’sneighborhood and place of work.

Dataand method

Our study is based on a longitudinal Finnish register data thatcover all residents who ever lived in Finland during 1999-2014. Unlike manyregister-based studies, we focus on natives instead of immigrants. We do sosince register data remains blind in the true partnership status of immigrantsmaking it difficult to estimate the at-risk immigrant population for theformation of mixed ethnic partnerships. Our research population is formed bythe adult single Finns aged 18 and over. We will employ the event historymodels separately for Finnish men and women. The final sample includes 518 513 menwho form 7501 ethnically mixed partnerships and 494 040 women who form 11918 ethnicallymixed partnerships.

We calculate the proportion of ethnic population in the area ofresidence based on the number of Finns and the number of non-Finns at age 18-40living in the same zip-area. We lag this information 1 year back assuming that thecontact has emerged somewhat earlier than the move to the same address which weconsider the beginning date of the partnership. In this way we can diminishpossible overestimation of the impact of ethnically mixed neighborhoods, becausethe beginning of the partnership might coincide with the change of the area ofresidence. The proportion of the non-Finnish population in the work-place iscalculated based on the shared enterprise code. These who do not work are codedas studying, if this is indicated in the data, or other.

Results

Wefind support to the assumption that the propensity to form first partnershipwith non-Finnish partner is higher for those Finns who live in areas where theproportion of other ethnic groups is higher (see Table 1). Similarly, workingin ethnically more diverse enterprise increases the probability of forming mixedpartnership (see Table 2). Individual characteristics such as having foreign-bornparents, having minority (Swedish) language as a first tongue, having an experienceof living in another country, all increase the propensity of forming ethnicallymixed partnership. However, controlling for individual and other contextual characteristicsonly slightly diminishes the contrasts observed in the domains of neighbourhoodand work-place. (Tables 1 and 2)

Conclusions

Thisstudy contributes to previous research because to our knowledge it is notcommon that studies about mixed partnerships focus on the impact of work-placeor model work-place and neighborhood together. We expect to share light on themechanisms how different domains of encounter facilitate inter-ethnic partnerships. 

 

Presented in Session 1086: International Migration and Migrant Populations