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Way out of town – are long-distance relationships a response to local partner scarcity?

Andreas Filser, Institute for Employment Research (IAB)
Richard Preetz, Socium Research Center On Inequality And Social Policy, University Of Bremen, Germany

Individuals tend find partners who are geographically close to themselves, a pattern often described as spatial homogamy. Yet, local scarcities of potential opposite-gender partners relative to same-gender competitors (i.e. skewed sex ratios) create marriage squeezes for the more numerous gender. The demographic literature has long discussed the implications of partner scarcities for the pattern and timing of marriage and relationship formation. Some studies have analyzed the consequences of partner market squeezes for educational or socio-economic heterogamy. However, no study so far has analyzed whether local partner market squeezes for levels of spatial heterogamy in relationship formation. In this paper, we add a novel perspective by analyzing whether local partner scarcities predict the formation of long-distance relationships rather than short-distance relationships. For our analysis, we link data from waves 1–11 of the German Family Panel (pairfam) with administrative population data to measure the local partner availability based on county-level age-specific sex ratios (NUTS-3). Preliminary results from multi-level logistic regression models reveal that men from counties with a male-skewed sex ratio exhibit a higher likelihood to form a long-distance relationship. For women, we do not find a statistically significant association between the county-level sex ratio and the formation of long-distance relationships.

Keywords: Population geography, Family demography, Neighbourhood/contextual effect analysis

See paper.

  Presented in Session 197. Spatial Networks, Clusters and Accessibility