The Transition to First Union in a Divided Partner Market: The Case of Two Ethnolinguistic Groups in Finland

Caroline Uggla
Jan M. Saarela, Abo Academy University

The timing of entry into the first cohabiting union is an issue of scientific and societal importance, and has bearing on many sociodemographic outcomes. Partner choice is both a cause and a consequence of the partner market, and thus related to opportunities, preferences and norms. Most studies on opportunities and their realisations within the context of interethnic unions have been concerned with natives versus immigrants. Finland provides an unusual opportunity to analyse first-union entries. We use multigenerational register data that cover the entire total population, and focus on two ethnolinguistic groups that are equal, live side by side and for whom coresidential unions across the ethnolinguistic lines are common, Finnish speakers and Swedish speakers (90% and 5% of the country’s population, respectively). Considering that ethnicity in general is a fundamental trait for partner choice, partner market opportunities can be assumed to vary considerably between these two groups. The primary aim is to analyse how own and parental ethnolinguistic affiliation affects time to first union and the partner choice in terms of the ethnolinguistic affiliation of the partner. We test whether scarcity of potential partners imply an accelerated union formation process, or if a smaller group size instead means delayed entry into cohabitation. Preliminary results suggest that Finnish speakers have a faster entry into the first union, while Swedish speakers with an endogamous Swedish background have the slowest rate, and individuals with mixed background are intermediate. The differences appear more marked for persons who eventually obtain tertiary-level education.

See paper

 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course