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The Residential Segregation of Mixed-Nativity Married Couples


This article examines the ways in which mixed-nativity marriage is related to spatial assimilation in metropolitan areas of the United States. Specifically, we examine the residential patterns of households with a mixed-nativity—and, in some cases, interracial—marriage to determine whether they are less segregated from the native-born than entirely foreign-born households. Using restricted-use data from the 2000 census, we find that compared with couples in which both spouses are foreign-born, mixed-nativity couples tend to be less segregated from various native-born racial and ethnic groups. Further, among both foreign-born Asians and Hispanics, those with a native-born non-Hispanic white spouse are considerably less segregated from native-born white households than from other foreign-born Asian and Hispanic households. We also find that even though nativity status matters for black couples in a manner consistent with assimilation theory, foreign-born and mixed-nativity black households still each display very high levels of segregation from all other native-born racial/ethnic groups, reaffirming the power of race in determining residential patterns. Overall, our findings provide moderate support for spatial assimilation theory and suggest that cross-nativity marriages often facilitate the residential integration of the foreign-born.

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