July 17, 2009

Intermarriage and the risk of divorce in the Netherlands

Prompted by my recent post on Constantinus Porphyrogenitus and inter-ethnic marriage.

From the paper:
We therefore introduce two hypotheses. The first hypothesis is the main-effects hypothesis, which argues that the more traditional the value orientation of a religious or national origin group, the lower the risk of divorce.

...

Our second hypothesis concerns the effect of the spouses’ religion and national origin, and argues that when the religions or national origins of the two spouses are dissimilar, the risk of divorce is higher.We call this the heterogamy hypothesis. Assumingthat the main-effects hypothesis is valid, we need to decide what constitutes evidence for the heterogamy hypothesis. If the divorce risk of a mixed marriage (between, say, a member of group A and a member of group B) is higher than the divorce risk of AA marriages but lower than the divorce risk of BB marriages, we argue that adaptation is taking place. The behaviour of those couples is in between the two groups, and one can argue that this is simply the average of the two group effects and not a heterogamy effect (Jones 1996). To analyse real heterogamy effects, we employ both a strong and a weak form of the heterogamy hypothesis. According to the strong heterogamy hypothesis, AB marriages will have a divorce risk that is higher than the maximum divorce risk of AA and BB marriages. For example, we expect that a marriage between a Catholic and an unaffiliated person will have a divorce risk that is higher than the (already) high risk for unaffiliated couples. According to the weak heterogamy hypothesis, AB marriages will have a divorce risk that is higher than the average risk of AA and BB marriages. In our example, the risk of the mixed group will be higher than the average of the low risk for Catholics and the high risk for unaffiliated couples.
The data is supportive of the strong heterogamy hypothesis, according to which an AB has a higher chance of a divorce than the highest of AA and BB:
Are there effects of heterogamy on the risk of divorce? Table 8 shows that the answer is clear: most mixed combinations have a risk of divorce that is higher than the highest level of divorce in the two homogamous groups. The average ratio is 2.02, indicating that mixed marriages have a risk of divorce twice as high as that of the maximum level of divorce in the two corresponding groups. This effect is quite strong and clearly supports the strong heterogamy hypothesis.

...

We also find variations in the magnitude of the effects that are consistent with our hypothesis about value orientations. Combinations of Dutch and Turkish or Moroccan persons reveal a stronger heterogamy effect than combinations involving Dutch and Western European persons. The effects for combinations involving Southern Europeans are in between the combinations with Turks or Moroccans and the combinations with Western Europeans. When looking at combinations involving
minority men, the differences are quite strong. The ratio is 4.7 for combinations involving Turkish men, 2.4 for combinations involving Moroccan men, and 1.5 for combinations involving Western European men. Because European groups are more similar than Moroccan and Turkish groups to the Dutch in values and lifestyle, this finding is consistent with theoretical interpretations of the heterogamy effect
in terms of value similarity.
The paper has detailed tables on the various combinations of intermarriage between different Dutch religious denominations and national origins. What seems clear is that Constantinus' ideas about religious and ethnic homogamy as more conducive to harmonious cohabitation seem to be supported by the data.

Population Studies, Vol. 59, No. 1, 2005, pp. 71-85

Intermarriage and the risk of divorce in the Netherlands: The effects of differences in religion and in nationality, 1974-94

Matthijs Kalmijn et al.

A textbook hypothesis about divorce is that heterogamous marriages are more likely to end in divorce than homogamous marriages. We analyse vital statistics on the population of the Netherlands, which provide a unique and powerful opportunity to test this hypothesis. All marriages formed between 1974 and 1984 (nearly 1 million marriages) are traced in the divorce records and multivariate logistic regression models are used to analyse the effects on divorce of heterogamy in religion and national origin. Our analyses confirm the hypothesis for marriages that cross the Protestant-Catholic or the Jewish-Gentile boundary. Heterogamy effects are weaker for marriages involving Protestants or unaffiliated persons. Marriages between Dutch and other nationalities have a higher risk of divorce, the more so the greater the cultural differences between the two groups. Overall, the evidence supports the view that, in the Netherlands, new group boundaries are more difficult to cross than old group boundaries.

Link

10 comments:

Kepler said...

I am surprised they see this as a topic worth a "scientific study" (and taxes). In Germany they call it Stammtischwissenschaft.
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stammtisch

There is nothing revealing on this.
The more different the background, the higher the chances of breakup, specially if it has to do with arch-conservative groups or if it has to do with someone marrying someone else because of the passport.

There is quite some path to go from these very evident "findings" to that byzantine statement.

I can see it already:
"no, son, you need to marry a white US American", "no, daughter, you have to marry a Greeck man"

ioannes said...

My earlier hypothesis that ethnically homogeneous states are a utopia and in practice a nightmare and the contemplation thereof hence a waste of time was not disproven by the comments on the posting on Constantinus, to the contrary, it appears to me.
(of course it is very tempting when “the others” form a group of largely supposed exclusive kinship and go clobbering their neighbors on the head, or threaten to do so, or are perceived to do so, to establish something similar in return, for fear of losing out. I rather prefer, and very much appreciate your approach, Dienekes, to find out what is really at the source of all this, to understand what is going on, to discuss, to avoid basic us/them tribalism from rearing its head)

Since certainly origin is therefore in itself no sufficient explanation for the higher divorce rate, it would be interesting to know WHY these marriages failed. Would there for instance be a relation with stronger or less strong expectations on one or either side of them to fail? Or might some not even be ‘real’ marriages in the first place, as Kepler suggests?

Of course Constantinus had a point: still, the fact that learning ain’t easy does not stop us from trying to figure things out. Some would even call this highly necessary, to the point of sending their kids to cram schools, some just fun. Not a bore like Constantinus apparently (in this instance).

Ildefonso said...

Ach, du bist deutscher, Kepler! Ist ja schön. Irgendwie bin ich nicht überrascht. Studierst du am OSI vielleicht? Egal...

Yeah, this is not a legitimate subject of study, kepler. In fact, we should suppress this kind of studies. Or any studies that yield results you don´t like. Or burn the books that contain those studies, for that matter (now I am using straw man argument, I admit, but just for the fun of it).

I also think this is a stupid study, though. Because it sets to prove something obvious. It´s like saying: Scientists of Jena University PROVE that German tourists enjoy their holidays at Mallorca more it the weather happens to be sunny....

But Dienekes brings it up because he likes the scientific method, you know, empirical data and all that Teufelszeug.

And you should also understand that this dicussion (likelihood of divorce) is about facts and facts alone. The difference between "Sein" and "Sollen" matters. Dienekes is on the level of "Sein". Statements like this one:

I can see it already:
"no, son, you need to marry a white US American", "no, daughter, you have to marry a Greeck man"

belong to the realm of "Sollen", or morals, if you like. They are legitimate. But you should not conflate both, or else you run the risk of... well, "thinking" (feeling?) like you do.

And finally: It is ok that people know that international/ethnic relationships are more fragile. I know that, I have had girlfriends from different countries and so have many of my friends, and, sorry boy, they ARE more fragil, even when no passports are involved.

The idea is that if people know the facts, they can take more informed decisions freely - and yes, marry a US American or a Greek if they please (it is about what pleases them, not you, remember?). But apperently, you seem to think that "truth" is very valuable... so valuable that it has to be administered carefully.

And now you can continue in your quixotic fight against obvious facts you don´t like. I wish you well. You might even get a "Professur" in some sociology or political science department.

Major Tom said...

I've read others paper like this made in others countries and all of them had the same outcome.

Kepler said...

Nein, Ioannes, ich bin kein Deutscher...tja, das sind Vorurteile.

I am definitely not the first one here who would be burning books.

I just find the article says nothing new, descubrieron la pólvora. I am sure there are lots of wee sociology theses on this subject that are ages old. So?


I believe the study's conclusion is right. Now: what is the intention? It goes beyond politics and more into an obsession not simply with ethnicity, but with "purity", as if nations were supposed to last forever.
The topic is perfectly relevant, but in 2009 I would expect to hear about it on early morning TV, not on a publication about new scientific findings.

We can apply the scientific method eternally on all kinds of discoveries about beach preferences in Mallorca.

ioannes said...

hoho dear Kepler, I never said, or thought you were German... (neither, you will understand, would I care much)

Kepler said...

Sorry, I meant "Ildefonso".
Whatever

Ildefonso said...

Again, you are confusing "Sein" with "Sollen".

That nations cannot last forever (a fact or "Sein" - although you should give china or the Jews a couple of thoughts) does in no way mean that nations have to *actively encourage* their own dissolution (a Sollen or prescriptive judgement). Just as the fact that we all die does not mean we should lead an unhealthy life.

Plus: no obsession with purity here, pal. A certain number of foreigners can be a nice thing: from ethnic restaurants and exotic hotties in the clubs to enhanced commercial relationships with the country where the immigrants come from (see Germany - Turkey).

But numbers matter. Too many can be problematic, lead to discrimination, resentment, terrorism -both religious and nationalist-, economic envy, identity politics, civil wars... you name it.

And just one thought: The ethnic dimension of the Chavez revolution cannot have been completely lost on you, can it?

Kepler said...

"Too many can be problematic, lead to discrimination, resentment, terrorism -both religious and nationalist-, economic envy, identity politics, civil wars... you name it."
That is true, I think few would doubt that, even among those you classify as lefties (not that I were a lefty anyway).

"And just one thought: The ethnic dimension of the Chavez revolution cannot have been completely lost on you, can it?"

Chavez's so-called revolution is rather cultural and economical tension. I have written about that. He does try to use the ethnic factor, specially among the less educated. In reality the vast majority of the Venezuelan population is mixed - everything- and those who claim to be mostly Indians and "Afro-Americans" defending some "Bolivarian" crap are the descendants of Spanish settlers and conquerors by paternal side, if not in part by maternal one, just like me.

Hitler was claiming most of Germany's problems were based on the clash of civilizations and the Jews inside Germany.

ioannes said...

“"Too many can be problematic, lead to discrimination, resentment, terrorism -both religious and nationalist-, economic envy, identity politics, civil wars... you name it."
That is true, I think few would doubt that, even among those you classify as lefties (not that I were a lefty anyway).”

Gentlemen, though quite a few people may feel this way, it’s still based on the ethnic thing (an issue we don’t solve in this overpopulated world, apparently starved of resources, by moving persons across borders or by other disgusting means of ethnic cleansing of which recent history has shown the effects). Besides, you call half the world ‘terrorist’ and you’ve got a problem on your hand, and no solution in sight...
In fact, only a small minority of the immigrants referred to ‘cause problems’, the large majority are exemplary citizens, who wish to contribute to the society they chose, some in second instance, to be part of (not for nothing).
And let us be frank, though western societies have, generally speaking (I’ll keep this one vague though the open societies did far better in this than others), brought the world forward a bit, a lot of decadence has set in too. Just switch on the telly and you know what I mean. Quality of life reduced to greed, lust, sex and self satisfaction.
If you want to tackle a problem tackle the right one first and clean up your own act. Set the right triggers accordingly. Challenge others to improve on it.
By just blaming others on your own apparent (personal) poverty and by sticking labels on them like Turks or Muslims or Ossies or Women or Lefties or … you really won’t get anywhere. You’ll just feed your own apparent fear and possibly people who benefit from that. Extremist groups, criminal organizations, war industry, etc. Not much fun, if you ask me.