Local Population Composition and Romantic/Sexual Relationship Homophily

Kate W. Strully, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)

Racial-ethnic and class homophily in romantic/sexual partnerships is widely documented. Such homophily likely results from the interaction of people’s personal preferences and local structural constraints (e.g., spatial segregation) that reduce the likelihood that one meets and can enter into a relationship with someone of a different background. This project uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health to test how the racial-ethnic and class composition of local populations (e.g., within schools and neighborhoods) influences homophily in romantic/sexual partnerships. When the number of local potential partners who are homophilous in terms of race and class declines, do people form inter-racial and/or inter-class relationships? Or, do they “work around” local diversity by seeking partners outside of the local community or reducing their number of partners? Answer to these questions likely influence whether/how sexually transmitted infections (STI) spread across racial-ethnic/class/geographic boundaries, and implications of the findings for STI disparities are discussed.

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Presented in Poster Session 5