Are mixed ethnic unions more likely to dissolve than co-ethnic unions, and does neighbourhood ethnic mix have an influence?
Feng, Z., Boyle, P., van Ham, M. & Raab, G. (2010) British Society for Population Studies annual conference 2010, University of Exeter, UK, 13 - 15 September 2010 [SLS][ONS LS]
People generally partner someone with similar characteristics in terms of age, religion, ethnicity, level of education, and family background. The increasing share of ethnic minorities in Britain has been paralleled by an increase in the occurrence of mixed ethnic unions involving a White and an ethnic minority partner. Such unions are thought to run higher risks of dissolution, but empirical studies so far have been inconclusive. This paper uses the Office for National Statistics longitudinal study (ONS LS) to investigate whether mixed ethnic unions are more likely to dissolve than co- ethnic unions. Following married or cohabiting couples from 1991 to 2001 we find clear evidence that ethnic minorities who out-partner with Whites exhibit higher risks of dissolution, although this effect varies between ethnic groups. We also show that the ethnic mix in the residential neighbourhood plays a role in the stability of such partnerships – for example, couples involving Black and White partners living in neighbourhoods with a high concentration of Black people have higher risks of dissolution than those living elsewhere. Again, however, the role of neighbourhood context varies between ethnic groups.