Ethnic, Religious and Educational Homogamy in Nigeria

Uche C Isiugo-Abanihe, Olufunke Fayehun


The study examines the extent to which Nigerians marry within circumscribed social groups, or choose marital partners who are similar to them in status, a phenomenon termed homogamy. Ethnicity, religious affiliation and educational attainment are three important variables in mate selection in Nigeria. To what extent is Nigerian marriage ethnically, religiously and educationally homogenous? This question is addressed with the use of couples’ data derived from the 2003, 2008 and 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), from which information on marital union and patterns was analyzed. The large sample size of the NDHS data, their periodicity and national representativeness justify their appropriateness for this study. The analysis involved computation of gross measure of homogamy by ethnicity, education and religion; also the odds of homogamy were examined based on selected characteristics of husbands and wives using logistic regression. The results indicate a very high level of homogamy; about 9 of 10 couples in Nigeria are married within their ethnic and religious groups. The level of educational homogamy is much lower (about 60 percent). Factors that give rise to the different patterns evident in the study are discussed and suggestions proferred for a more exogamous spousal selection in the country.


homogamy, endogamy, exogamy, ethnicity, Nigeria

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ISSN 2308-7854 (online); ISSN 0850-5780 (print)

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