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An analysis of consanguineous marriage in the Muslim population of India at regional and state levels

Bittles, A.H. and Hussain, R. (2000) An analysis of consanguineous marriage in the Muslim population of India at regional and state levels. Annals of Human Biology, 27 (2). pp. 163-171.

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Consanguineous marriage is widely favoured in a large majority of the world's Islamic populations. According to recent estimates, the resident Muslim population of India is over 100 million. However, apart from a few numerically small or geographically defined surveys, little is known about their patterns of marriage preferences since partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947. This study seeks to determine the prevalence and patterns of consanguineous marriages contracted among Indian Muslims at regional and state levels during the last two generations. Data from the 1992/93 Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS) were used in the analysis. The NFHS was a nationally-representative survey of ever-married women aged 13-49 years, conducted across 25 states of India. Of the initial 9845 respondents, 8436 were included in the final weighted analysis sample. Overall, 22.0% of marriages were found to be contracted between spouses related as second cousins or closer, ranging from 15.9% in the eastern states to 32.9% in the western states of India. In all parts of the country first cousin marriages were the preferred form of consanguineous union, and in four of the five regions paternal first cousin marriages predominated. Despite predictions to the contrary, there was no evidence of a significant change in the prevalence of consanguineous unions over the course of the study period, which extended from the late 1950s to the early 1990s.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
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