Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Generational Effects on Marriage Patterns: Jewish Immigrants and Their Descendants in Israel

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Generational Effects on Marriage Patterns: Jewish Immigrants and Their Descendants in Israel

Article excerpt

We analyze various effects of generational status on marriage patterns of Jewish immigrants and their descendants in Israel over the last 4 decades. We report the following findings: (a) important, independent effects of generational endogamy on marriage patterns in all periods; (b) steady declines in ethnic endogamy among the native born, along with stability in levels of ethnic endogamy among first-generation immigrants over the past 3 decades; (c) effects of generational status on the propensity to marry in all periods. Our results suggest an increase over time in the relative importance of generational factors in marriage patterns. This conclusion contrasts with previous research documenting general declines in the importance of ascriptive characteristics in marriage behavior.

Key Words: endogamy, generation, homogamy, immigration, Israel, marriage.

This study presents analyses of various effects of generational status on marriage patterns of Jewish immigrants and their descendants in Israel over the last 4 decades. Specifically, we consider three ways in which generational factors can be reflected in marriage behavior: (a) through generational endogamy, whereby immigrants and their descendants tend to marry within their own generational group; (b) through interactions with ethnic (origin) endogamy, whereby the extent of ethnic endogamy may vary by generational status; and (c) through the economic feasibility of marriage, whereby first-generation immigrants may have more limited opportunities to marry than their secondand third-generation counterparts.

Generational endogamy is a type of assortative mating that has been shown to be of importance in some previous research but has not been extensively analyzed in contemporary populations (Pagnini & Morgan, 1990; Qian & Lichter, 2001). The study of generational endogamy provides insight into ethnic assimilation processes by examining the extent of mutual acceptance of immigrants and their new society. Moreover, generational endogamy has implications for the dynamics of assimilation processes. For example, greater generational endogamy, in conjunction with ethnic endogamy, may slow the initial stages of ethnic assimilation, as first-generation immigrants marry each other and thus are more likely to convey ethnic distinctiveness to their second-generation children.

In addition, most previous research has not made the distinction between trends over time in overall ethnic endogamy and trends in generation-specific ethnic endogamy (but see Kalmijn, 1993). The difference may be important because the generational composition of ethnic populations changes over time. If second- and third-generation immigrants display weaker ethnic endogamy than the first generation, overall measures of ethnic endogamy may decline with generational replacement, even while ethnic endogamy among the first-generation remains strong. By explicitly controlling for generation in our study, we are able to disentangle the effects of changes over time in the generational composition of Israeli society from changes in generation-specific ethnic endogamy. Moreover, our study presents an analysis of the propensity to marry as a function of generational status, an aspect of social structure that has not been widely addressed in the literature on marriage patterns.

This work examines marriage patterns among three generations of Jews in Israel, in four 10-year periods that ended in the years 1961, 1972, 1983, and 1995. As each 10-year period under study spans a time in which there is a mix of first-generation immigrants as well as native-born Jews in Israel, we are able to identify analytically the effects of generational status on marriage patterns as distinct from period effects on marriage behavior. Moreover, through the application of models explicitly designed to control for the availability of potential mates of varying characteristics in the marriage market, we are able to analyze marriage behavior in ways that abstract from the effects of population composition. …

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