Culture, Modernization, and Politics: Ethnic Differences in Union Formation in Kyrgyzstan

Victor Agadjanian, Premchand Dommaraju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The unique cultural and political history of Central Asia has produced intriguing ethnic variations in union formation. We use data from a survey of 1,535 young adults conducted in 2005 in northern Kyrgyzstan to examine ethnic patterns of entry into marriage versus cohabitation. To reflect the historic-cultural and political realities of Kyrgyzstan, we subdivide ethnic Kyrgyz into two categories based on the degree of linguistic Russification-more-Russified Kyrgyz and less-Russified Kyrgyz-and compare them to each other and to respondents of European origin. The results of the multinomial discrete-time logit models show significant differences among the three groups. Thus, Europeans were most likely to enter cohabitation whereas less-Russified Kyrgyz were least likely to do so, net of other factors. The three groups were lined up in the converse order with respect to probability of entering marriage, but upon breakdown by gender this ordering was present only among women. In contrast, among men, more-Russified Kyrgyz were less likely to marry than both less-Russified Kyrgyz and Europeans. We interpret these findings in light of long-term historic-cultural and demographic distinctions as well as more recent politically induced cleavages in Kyrgyzstan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-101
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Central Asia
  • Cohabitation
  • Ethnicity
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Marriage
  • Union formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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