British South Asian Transnational Marriage

Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


In this chapter we look at patterns and trends transnational marriage among British Pakistani Muslims and British Indian Sikhs, explore attitudes towards transnational marriage and look at how participants own marriages came about. Labour Force Survey data shows a clear downward trend in the popularity of transnational marriage. They also show transnational marriage is less common among those with higher education. We explore the possibility that the opportunity for migration might be ‘exchanged’ for educational capital so that transnational marriage could provide British South Asians access to more educated partners in India or Pakistan. The LFS figures show that educational homogamy (spouses having the same level of education) is the dominant pattern in both transnational and intranational marriages. We nevertheless find evidence of educational selectivity in transnational marriages, with migrant spouses’ educational profiles comparing very favourably to those in the origin countries. The qualitative data from the MMI study shows that educational similarity constitutes just one aspect of understandings of compatibility which make transnational marriage attractive for some, and undesirable for others. Family considerations, such as care for parents as they age, and for British Pakistanis the possibility of marriage between cousins, also appear in these accounts, alongside the opportunities to meet marriage partners presented by the transnational social field.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sociology, Politics and International StudiesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.BristolUK
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Centre on Migration, Policy and SocietyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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