Is It Better to Intermarry? Marital Composition and Suicide Risk among Native-Born and Immigrant Persons in Sweden

Anna Oksuzyan , Bielefeld University
Siddartha Aradhya, Lund University
Jennifer Caputo, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Sven Drefahl, Stockholm University

Marriage is protective against suicide across populations, including for persons of different ethnicities and immigrant backgrounds. However, the well-being benefits of marriage are contingent upon marital characteristics—such as conflict and quality—that may vary among persons of different migration backgrounds in interaction with the migration background of their spouse. Using Swedish register data, we compare suicide mortality risk among married persons on the basis of their and their spouse’s migration background. We find that relative to those in a native Swede-Swede union, Swedish men married to female immigrants and immigrant women married to native men are at higher risk of death by suicide, while immigrants of both genders who are married to someone from their birth country have lower suicide mortality. The findings support hypotheses about the strains that may be encountered by those who intermarry, as well as the potential selection of individuals into inter- and intra-marriages.

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 Presented in Session 64. Immigrants' Health