Immigration and Intermarriage Among Hispanics: Crossing Racial and Generational Boundaries


  •  The authors thank Ben Cornwell, Tomás Jimenéz, Hyunjoon Park, Sharon Sassler, and the anonymous reviewers and editor of Sociological Forum for comments on earlier versions of this article.


Rates of Hispanic intermarriage with whites declined for the first time during the 1990s. One hypothesis, which we test here, is that the recent influx of new immigrants has provided an expanding marriage market for Hispanics, reinforced cultural and ethnic identity, and slowed the process of marital assimilation. In this article, we use data from the March Current Population Survey (1995–2008) to identify generational differences in Hispanic-white intermarriage. The results indicate that second-generation Hispanics were more likely to marry first- rather than third-generation Hispanics or whites, a pattern that was reinforced over the study period. The results suggest declining rates of intermarriage among second-generation Hispanics—a pattern that diverges sharply from those observed among third-plus-generation Hispanics, where in-marriage with other Hispanics declined over time. If couched in the language of straight line assimilation theory, third-plus-generation Hispanics are assimilating by increasingly marrying other third-generation co-ethnics and whites. On the other hand, assimilation among the second-generation is slowing down as its members increasingly reconnect to their native culture by marrying immigrants.