The geographical dimensions of partner choice

University dissertation from Amsterdam : Rozenberg

Abstract: The dissertation of Karen Haandrikman shows that spatial homogamy, or the similarity of partners regarding their geographical origins, plays a key role in partner choice. The research shows that Dutch cohabiters find their partner at very short distances. Distances are shortest for older people, those who lived with their parents before cohabitation and for the lower educated. Spatial homogamy of partners increases the probability for a partner match, even when demographic, socio-economic and cultural similarity of partners is accounted for.Spatial analyses show that distances to partners are especially long in peripheral areas, whereas spatial homogamy is pronounced in the Bible belt, in cities and in Northern and Eastern Netherlands. These differences are explained by a combination of geographical factors, the composition of the population and local cultural differences.In a case study in Vriezenveen it was examined how distance plays a role in partner choice. A partner from close by is viewed as convenient, familiar and trustworthy. Partners from places with deviating denominations, alleged different mentality or culture, and from cities were not considered as potential partners. Local cultural differences can be seen as forming spatial barriers prohibiting partner choice.The meeting place plays a central role in the partner choice process. Meeting places are socially differentiated: partners with similar background characteristics are found in local partner markets. In their partner choice, individuals are driven by preferences, constrained by social and cultural norms, and influenced by the opportunities to meet potential partners.

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