Mate Selection of Exogamous Unions: Does Exchange Theory Fit to the Italian Case?

Anna Paterno , Università degli Studi di Bari
Giuseppe Gabrielli, University Federico II of Naples
Alessio Buonomo, University of Naples Federico II

International scholars paid attention to the assortative mating of exogamous couples, comparing their specific characteristics and the ways in which they are formed to those of endogamous ones. These studies produced various interpretative approaches and, among them, the well-known exchange theory. Authors have recently reinterpreted and updated this interpretative perspective, highlighting that often it does not apply in its original form of economic/ethnic status compensation. Within the exchange theory framework and using data coming from the 2011-12 "Social Conditions and Integration of Foreign Citizen Survey", this paper aims to verify if and to what extent the exchange theory fit to the recent assortative mating in Italy. Used dataset was built transposing and putting cohabitant partners on the same row in the data-sheet; in this way it was possible to consider the couples as unit of analysis. Applying multivariate analysis techniques, evidences are found of the presence of a balance between the "bargaining power" of the Italian partner (in terms of socio-economic status) and the appreciated qualities of the foreigner partner (such as young age). The distinctive mate selection patterns of exogamous couples confirm that, as previous studies have demonstrated, a "variant" of the exchange theory can fit to the Italian case.

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 Presented in Session 74. Interethnic Union Formation and Dissolution