Racial Preferences in Online Dating across European Countries

Racial Preferences in Online Dating across European Countries

January 5, 2015

Knowledge about how race governs partner selection has been predominantly studied in the United States, yet it is unclear whether these results can be generalized to nations with different racial and immigration patterns. Using a large-scale sample of online daters from eDarling in nine European countries, we engage in the first cross-national analysis of race-related partner preferences and examine the link between contextual factors and ethnic selectivity. We provide a unique test of contact, conflict, and in-group identification theories. We show that individuals uniformly prefer to date same-race partners and that there is a hierarchy of preferences both among natives and minority groups. Notable country differences are also found. Europeans living in countries with a large foreign-born population have an increased preference for minority groups. The ethnically heterogeneous Swiss population displays the strongest preference for minorities, with the more homogenous Poland, Spain, and Italy, the least. Anti-immigrant attitudes are related to stronger in-group preferences among natives. Unexpectedly, non-Arabic minority daters belonging to large-size communities have strong preferences for Europeans. The results have implications for immigrant integration policies and demonstrate that Internet dating allows efficient selection by racial divisions, perpetuating country-specific racial inequalities.

Potârcă, G. and Mills, M. (2015). Racial Preferences in Online Dating across European Countries. European Sociological Review, 31 (3): 326-341. doi: 10.1093/esr/jcu093

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