Binational Marriages in Sweden: Is There an EU Effect?


  • Karen Haandrikman

    Guest researcher, Corresponding author
    1. Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
    2. Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University, Sweden
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This paper explores and explains the partner choice of Swedes in the period 1991–2008. The partner market for Swedes has expanded considerably in the last few decades, because of EU expansion, globalisation processes, and an increased diversity of the migrant population. Besides increased opportunities, citizens who are better educated, younger, and more mobile might prefer foreign partners of their own kind. The paper focuses on marriages between Swedish-born and foreign-born partners and distinguishes people with Swedish-born parents from those with foreign-born parents. Using full-population register data, I conducted a systematic comparison between Swedes marrying EU partners and those marrying non-EU partners. I find that the binational marriage rate has increased over time, especially for native Swedish men and men who are second-generation Swedes. The increase is for the greater part attributable to an increase in the number of marriages to partners from outside the EU, whereas binational EU marriages have remained stable with no effects from EU accession. Patterns of binational marriages are highly gender specific: Finland being the most important supplier for foreign husbands, whereas Thai women are most popular amongst men. Against expectation, native Swedes in binational marriages are, by and large, older and less well educated. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.