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Open Access Publications from the University of California

International Migration and Educational Assortative Mating in Mexico and the United States


Using data from the 2000 U.S. and Mexican Censuses, this paper examines the relationship between migration and marriage patterns by describing how the distributions of marital statuses and assortative mating patterns vary by individual and community experiences of migration. In Mexico, migrants and those living in areas with high levels of migration are less likely to marry a spouse with the same level of education. Return migrants from the U.S. to Mexico may use their improved economic position to marry up. In the U.S., Mexican migrants are also less likely to enter into homogamous unions; however, the odds of homogamy do not vary by couple level of migration. Migrants may expand their pool of potential spouses to include non-migrants and nonmigrants tend to be better educated than Mexican migrants. With individual migration experiences, the odds of marrying outside of one’s education group increase the most among the least educated. With community level of migration in Mexico, the odds of marrying outside of the group increases the most among the best educated. These findings suggest that preferences for homogamy are disrupted by migration.

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