MPIDR Working Paper

Is it better to intermarry? Ethnic composition of marriages and suicide risk among native-born and migrant persons in Sweden

Oksuzyan, A., Drefahl, S., Caputo, J., Aradhya, S.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2020-026, 29 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (May 2020)
Open Access


Marriage is protective against suicide across populations, including for persons of different ethnicities and immigrant backgrounds. However, the well-being benefits of marriage are contingent upon marital characteristics—such as conflict and quality—that may vary among persons of different migration backgrounds in interaction with the migration background of their spouse. Leveraging Swedish register data, we compare suicide mortality hazard among married persons on the basis of their and their spouse’s migration background. We find that relative to those in a native Swede-Swede union, Swedish men married to female immigrants and immigrant women married to native men are at higher risk of death by suicide, while immigrants of both genders who are married to someone from their birth country have lower suicide mortality risk. The findings support hypotheses about the strains that may be encountered by those who intermarry, as well as the potential selection of individuals into inter- and intra-ethnic marriages.

Keywords: Sweden, immigrants, mental health, mixed marriage, population registers, suicide
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.