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Interracial Marriage in Brazil: a discussion about local marriage market, parents' characteristics, and household chores

  • Author(s): Tomas, Maria Carolina
  • Advisor(s): Hout, Michael
  • et al.

This dissertation focuses on interracial marriage in Brazil and has three main topics of analysis: the local marriage market, parental influence on partner choice, and the sexualdivision of labor. The main motivation for this research is the fact that most studies have taken for granted the formation of marriage and have only utilized an ex post facto methodology. Other studies have focused on the status exchange approach using education (i.e. Ribeiro and Silva 2009) or religion (Longo 2011) as potential exchangeable characteristics. Thus, it is necessary to better understand the formation of interracial marriage in Brazil.

Chapter two, which is entitled "Space and Interracial Marriage: how does the racial distribution of the local marriage market change the analysis of intermarriage in Brazil?," discusses how the consideration of the racial distribution in local marriage markets in Brazil influences the homogamy-heterogamy rates. The results show that when considering the local racial distribution of wives and husbands, the homogamy-heterogamy rates decrease by 15.3 percent to 43.16 percent, depending on the year and the race of the spouses. The differences are lower in 2000 compared to 1991. After determining this overall result, I looked at each mesoregion and concluded that with very few exceptions, the inclusion of the local racial distribution is important for explaining intermarriage rates in all mesoregions. In addition, there are some significant regional differences, especially in the South, where the homogamy-heterogamy rates tend to be higher than the average level.

The third chapter of this dissertation, "The influence of parental characteristics on a child's probability of interracial marriage in Brazil," addresses how family formation has a significant intergenerational component, in terms of partner choice. The results showed that parental endogamy increases the child's probability of being in a same race union as well. Moreover, parental education is also an important factor. Results indicate that the higher the level of parental education, the higher the probability is of a child's homogamy. However, when analyzing the effect of parental race on the race of a child's spouse, parental education is not statistically significant and having a nonwhite parent, as expected, decreases the probability of marrying a white spouse. These results are important for discussing the racial hierarchy that exists in the marriage market, and how other family characteristics, such as education, may influence the race of a child's spouse. It is also worth highlighting that education does not seem to offset the role of race, and the cultural (race) aspect of racial assortative mating seems to be more significant than the economic trait (education). The main message of this chapter emphasizes that it is not possible to fully understand racial assortative mating without considering the family dimension.

In chapter four, "Household chores and interracial marriage in Brazil: interactions between gender, race, and type of union," I approach the relationship between gender, race, type of union (intra or interracial), and the sexual division of labor. The results show that both nonwhite men and nonwhite women spend more time doing domestic work when they are in interracial relationships. The most curious result is the fact that white men tend to not only classify traditionally female activities as more female than whites in a homogamous situation, but they also tend to overrate the traditionally male activities as being specific to men. Similarly, brown women are more likely to work more hours at home, as do brown and black men. Moreover, when disentangling the bargaining and discrimination effects by using interaction terms between an individual's own race and whether he/she had a higher income, more education or worked more hours in the labor market than their spouse, I found that, especially for the white/brown couples, there are important interactions between a couple's racial composition and bargaining power indicators. This means that an explanation is not fully justified utilizing the bargaining power approach and that some discrimination may persist in these relationships. Therefore, my main conclusion is that there is something intrinsic to interracial unions in terms of gender roles. I claim that part of the explanation for this pattern may be the historical meaning of what it is to be a white man and white woman in contrast to being a black man and black woman. Considering these results, I also assert that we should focus on factors other than education and religion in order to study exchanges in interracial marriage. The division of labor is one possible characteristic that could be examined.

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