First partner choice in a native minority: The role of own and parental ethnolinguistic affiliation in Finland
Despite increasing diversity within many societies, ethnically endogamous unions remain common. In contexts where one ethnic minority has lived alongside the majority for centuries, understanding who partners with whom is central to understanding how ethnic boundaries are maintained or dissolved. This study examines the role of own and parental ethnolinguistic affiliation for the first partner choice in Finland. We provide a unique test of the relevance of ethnic endogamy across two generations, in a context where both study groups are indigenous, but one (Finnish speakers) overwhelmingly outnumbers the other (Swedish speakers). Using register data on the total population, we examine how a person’s ethnolinguistic affiliation and background affect the choice of the first cohabiting partner in terms of the partner’s ethnolinguistic affiliation and background. We apply discrete-time competing risk models separately for men and women born 1970-1983. Results indicate that Swedish-registered individuals with two Swedish-registered parents are the most likely to partner with another Swedish-registered person with endogamous background. Alongside them, partnering with a Swedish-registered person with exogamous background is most likely among individuals who themselves come from mixed unions. Patterns are remarkably consistent. The most likely partners of Finnish-registered persons with two Finnish-registered parents is the inverse of the most likely partners of Swedish-registered persons with two Swedish-registered parents. In both ethnolinguistic groups and across genders, mothers’ ethnolinguistic affiliation is more important for partner choice than fathers’.