Unraveling the Eurasian Nuptiality Conundrum: Ethnicity and Entry into First Union in Kyrgyzstan

Victor Agadjanian, Arizona State University
Lesia Nedoluzhko, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
PremChand Dommaraju, Arizona State University

Demographers have long been intrigued by ethnic and regional variations in family formation in Eurasia. We use data from a recent survey of young adults in northern Kyrgyzstan to examine ethnic differences in the dynamics of entry into first union — marriage or cohabitation. We move beyond the traditional contrast between the European-origin minority and the Kyrgyz majority by subdividing the latter into two subgroups based on the degree of European cultural influence (Russification). The results of the multinomial discrete-time logit model show that Europeans are least likely to marry and most likely to cohabit, while the opposite is true of non-Russified Kyrgyz. Russified Kyrgyz stand between the two extremes. The analysis also reveals variations in ethnic patterns of union formation by gender and area of residence. We interpret these results in light of enduring cultural and demographic distinctions as well as more recent politically-driven differences between main ethnic groups.

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Presented in Session 166: Race and Ethnicity in Comparative Perspective