Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Remain single or live together: Does culture matter?

Marcén, Miriam and Morales, Marina (2017): Remain single or live together: Does culture matter?


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This paper studies the role of culture in determining the decision to live together (as married or unmarried couples). To examine this issue, we utilize data on first-generation immigrants who arrived to the United States at or before the age of 5. We follow the epidemiological approach, indicating that the dissimilarities in the behavior of young-arrival immigrants originating from different countries, who grew up and live in the same country, can be interpreted as evidence of the existence of a cultural effect. Results show a positive and statistically significant relationship between the cultural proxy, that is, the proportion of individuals living together by country of origin, and the immigrant choice of living with a partner. We extend this analysis to the examination of both married and unmarried cohabitation, separately, and to an exploration of the formation of same- or different-origin couples. In all cases, our findings suggest an important role of culture. The results are robust after controlling for several home-country observable and unobservable characteristics, and to the use of different subsamples. With respect to the transmission of culture, we show empirical evidence of horizontal transmission of culture.

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