Latinos Breaking Marriage Patterns: Emergent Exogamous Marriage and Partner Patterns Among Latinos and Latinas in the New York Metro Area 1980 – 2021

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report may 2023

NEW YORK, May 17, 2023—A new report published today by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York shows significant differences in marriage partner choice between Latin American immigrants and their U.S.-born Latino counterparts in the New York City region. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, study author and CLACLS Executive Director, Prof. Laird W. Bergad, found that Latin American immigrants to the region were much more likely to marry within their particular national origin group than U.S.-born Latinos. The report also found important variations in marriage partner choice between different Latin American national origin groups.

The report, titled “Spouse and Unmarried Partner Choices Among Largest Latino Nationalities in the New York Metropolitan Region, 1980–2021,” examines the married and unmarried partner choices among the largest Latino nationalities in the New York metropolitan region by race/ethnicity and nationality among household heads by sex.

“These results were not surprising, especially the data for Puerto Ricans who have been in the New York metro area the longest.” said Bergad. “In many ways Puerto Ricans repeated the experiences of late 19th and early 20th – century migrant groups. First, and even second generations of Italians and other Europeans tended to marry or partner with people of their own nationalities. Subsequent generations, born in the U.S., increasingly married or partnered with peoples of other national origins.”

Some key findings:

  • In 1980 about 83% of Puerto Rican male and female household heads in the region married or partnered with other Puerto Ricans. By 2021 this rate had fallen to 48% among Puerto Rican males and 43% among Puerto Rican females.

  • By 2021, about 76% of male Dominican household heads were born in the Dominican Republic and nearly 80% partnered with Dominican women and 12% with other Latinos. Dominican women exhibited a slightly different pattern. In 2021, 78% were born in the Dominican Republic and 71% partnered with Dominican men; 22% with other Latinos.

  • In 2021, 76% of male Mexican household heads were born in Mexico and 75% partnered with Mexican women. By 2021, 63% of female Mexican household heads were born in Mexico and 71% were married to or partnered with Mexican men; 14% with non- Hispanic whites; and 11% with other Latinos.

  • By 2021, 78% of Colombian male household heads were born in Colombia. Nearly 66% of these partnered with Colombian women; 22% with other Latinas; and 9% with non- Hispanic whites. In the same year, while 73% of Colombian female household heads were born in Colombia only 38% partnered or married Colombian men. About 39% partnered with other Latinos and 19% with non-Hispanic whites.

  • In 2021, 87% of Ecuadorian male household heads were born in Ecuador and 76% were partnered with Ecuadorian women. About 81% of female household heads were born in Ecuador, but there was an increase to 63% who partnered with Ecuadorian men. About 26% of Ecuadorian female household heads partnered with other Latinos in 2021 and only 6% with non-Hispanic whites.

Contact Sebastián Villamizar-Santamaría, Director of Quantitative Research, for a PDF of the report at svillamizarsantamaria@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

About The Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies

The core mission of CLACLS is to actively support and advance the study of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos in the U.S. in the doctoral programs of The Graduate Center, and to provide opportunities for Latino students at the Ph.D. level. CLACLS’s flagship program is the Latino Data Project, established in 2003 by Laird W. Bergad founding and current CLACLS director. Bergad is a distinguished professor in the Department of Latin American, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies at Lehman College and with the Ph.D. Program in History at The Graduate Center. The Latino Data Project conducts detailed quantitative research on the Latino population of the United States and New York City metropolitan region, analyzing raw data files produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies.

About The Graduate Center, CUNY

The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the nation’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.

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