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Linguistic Intermarriage in the United States

Gillian Stevens and Robert Schoen
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Feb., 1988), pp. 267-279
DOI: 10.2307/352445
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352445
Page Count: 13
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Linguistic Intermarriage in the United States
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Abstract

Linguistic homogamy allows the transmission of a couple's non-English language to the younger generation and thus plays a key role in the persistence of non-English-language groups in the United States. Like other kinds of assortative marriage, linguistic homogamy is influenced by the prevailing demographic opportunities for people to meet and marry persons with similar language characteristics. This study examines linguistic and educational marriage patterns for native-born Americans in six language groups while controlling for the population's age, sex, educational, and linguistic composition. The results first show that linguistic homogamy is more pronounced for men and women of lower educational status and that education is more salient than language in marriage choices for Americans whose first language is French, German, Italian, or Polish. Further analysis shows that the common pattern of educational hypergamy in which women marry men with higher educational status than themselves is more pronounced in cross-language marriages involving English-language women than in those involving English-language men, which suggests an exchange between men's economic and women's noneconomic characteristics.

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