Structured Choices: Dating Markets, Social Networks, and the Racial Characteristics of Intimate Partners among American Adolescents

Anthony Paik, University of Iowa
Christabel Rogalin, University of Iowa

Does race matter in adolescent intimate relations? To what extent are decisions about the racial/ethnic characteristics of intimate partners constrained by the composition of “dating markets” as opposed to being winnowed by racial preferences? This paper examines how opportunities and preferences affect adolescents’ choices of the racial/ethnic characteristics of their dating partners. Specifically, we examine the impact of opportunity in terms of school composition, which refers to variations in the local availability of potential sexual partners based on school-wide racial composition and grade-specific sex ratios. We also assess the importance of racial preferences by examining how homophily in school-based friendship networks affect choices about dating partners. Using Wave I of the pubic-use version of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we test these competing explanations via generalized discrete choice models, or mixed logit models.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Migration, Income, Employment, Neighborhoods and Residential Context