The number of mixed-ethnic unions has increased substantially in recent years (Coleman, 2004) with profound effects on the ethnic composition of the population, including the creation of new minority groups of mixed origin.
Previous research on mixed-ethnic unions in the UK uses mainly cross-sectional data from the 1991 Census 1% Household Samples of Anonymised Records (SAR) or the UK Labour Force Surveys (LFS) (e.g. Ballard, 1997; Berrington, 1996; Coleman, 1985; 2004). Most of these studies focussed on the growth of mixed-ethnic unions and none has used longitudinal data to explore changes in the geographies of mixed-ethnic couples. In particular, no study has examined whether living in mixed-ethnic neighbourhoods makes it more likely for people to enter mixed-ethnic unions, or whether those in mixed-ethnic unions are more likely to move into mixed-ethnic neighbourhoods. Nor has any study examined the stability of mixed-ethnic unions and how this may be influenced by geographical context. This study is therefore the first to explore the local geography of mixed-ethnic unions in Britain and to examine the associations of neighbourhoods and mixed-ethnic partnerships using longitudinal data.