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Spörlein, Christoph; Mouw, Ted; & Martinez-Schuldt, Ricardo (2017). The Interplay of Spatial Diffusion and Marital Assimilation of Mexicans in the United States, 1980–2011. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43(3), 475-494. PMCID: PMC7266094


Recent trends suggest a decline in the rate of intermarriage between Mexicans and non-Hispanic whites. In this paper, we argue that interpretations of this trend as a decline in preferences for intermarriage are misleading because of the lack of adequate data that captures both spatial and temporal variation in the level of intergroup contact. Using data from the Decennial Census (1980?2000) and the American Community Survey (2008?2011), we employ a novel methodological approach to disentangle the impact of spatial diffusion, ethnic replenishment, and shifts in preferences for homophily on Mexican ethnic intermarriage patterns across 543 Consistent Public Use Microdata Areas (c-PUMA). Once changes in the demographic composition of c-PUMAs are accounted for, multilevel models for repeated cross-sectional data provide no evidence of a change in the marital preferences of Mexicans over time. Trends in intermarriage rates are predominantly explained by compositional and structural changes.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies


Spörlein, Christoph
Mouw, Ted
Martinez-Schuldt, Ricardo