Geography Matters

Karen Haandrikman, Carel Harmsen, Leo J. G. van Wissen, Inge Hutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


'Cupid may have wings, but apparently they are not adapted for long flights.' Studies on the spatial dimension of the partner market have found that the number of marriages declines as the distance between potential spouses increases. This paper explores the role of geographical distance in partner choice in the Netherlands. The availability of unique integral micro data from the population register enables us to study spatial homogamy among all new cohabiters. Spatial homogamy is measured by calculating distances between partners before cohabitation. The explorative study shows that geography matters: Dutch persons choose spatially homogamous partners. Spatial homogamy is influenced by demographic factors. With increasing age, spatial homogamy increases. Moreover, those who live with their parents and those who are single parents before cohabitation live significantly shorter to their future partners. Spatial homogamy also exhibits a distinct spatial pattern. However, conditional on population size and geographical location, long distances between partners in peripheral areas become insignificant. Finally, the distance between partners decreases as urbanisation increases. The findings stimulate the discussion on the role of cultural factors in partner choice. Copyright (c) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)387-405
Number of pages19
JournalPopulation Space and Place
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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