War of Ideas
Where are the euromarriages?
If the open borders and common market of the EU have allowed Europeans to travel, work, and live abroad with ease, it stands to reason that more of them may be meeting that special someone while abroad as well. A new paper by Karen Haandrikman of the University of Stockholm’s Department of Human Geography runs ...
If the open borders and common market of the EU have allowed Europeans to travel, work, and live abroad with ease, it stands to reason that more of them may be meeting that special someone while abroad as well.
A new paper by Karen Haandrikman of the University of Stockholm’s Department of Human Geography runs some numbers to see if "euromarriages" are, indeed, a real phenomenon. Haandrikman’s paper looks at Sweden, in particular, but is part of a larger project on Binational marriages funded by the European Science Foundation.
Haandrikman looks at whether Swedes have become more likely to marry other (non-Nordic) Europeans since the creation of the EU, and whether Eastern European spouses have become more popular as their countries have joined the union.
The short answer is ‘no’. Swedes are increasingly marrying internationally but the EU doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it:
The share of binational marriages has increased over time for both native men and women. Although the probability for natives to marry EU partners versus native partners has not increased over time, the likelihood for a binational EU marriage did increase compared to the odds of marrying a partner from a neighbouring country. The geographical origins of European partners have changed over time, but not in the same way for men and women. Native men have shifted their focus from wives from Nordic and West European countries to wives from Central and Eastern Europe. The timing of this change, however, does not coincide with the moment these countries entered the EU, but happened much earlier. For native women, on the other hand, proximity remains the main mechanism for partner choice, as women were and still are most likely to marry Finnish husbands when they marry binationally. In addition, western husbands are popular among Swedish-born women, especially those from British and German origin.
If the pattern held for other countries, it would bolster what’s already widely suspected, that outside a small international elite, nationality remains much more important for European social life than any European identity.
One other weird finding of the study is that between 2002 and 2008, Thailand replaced Finland as the most common country of citizenship for non-Swedish women marrying Swedish men. The paper doesn’t really explore that trend in great detail but I’m guessing that didn’t have a whole lot to do with European integration.
(Photo: Count Bjorn Bernadotte of Sweden with his Swiss wife Sandra Angerer and family. Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images)