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Consanguineous marriage: Current global incidence and its relevance to demographic research

Bittles, A.H. (1990) Consanguineous marriage: Current global incidence and its relevance to demographic research. Population Studies Center. University of Michigan, Michigan, U.S.A..


The role of consanguinity as a significant influence on reproductive behavior and pre-reproductive mortality has received little attention from demographers, which is a surprising omission given the potential importance of the subject. To determine the current global incidence of consanguineous unions, data on marriages between second cousins or closer have been compiled from a variety of published and unpublished sources and are presented in detailed, tabular form. In many parts of the world, including Northern Africa and Southern and Western Asia, marriage between close relatives is highly favoured, accounting for approximately 20% to 55% of all unions, and preliminary evidence suggests that consanguinity also is an important variable in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. The populations of each of these regions typically exhibit high fertility and mortality, and during the last four decades they have been the source of many migrants to more developed countries in Northern America and Western Europe where they continue to contract consanguineous marriages at comparable frequencies. In discussing the relevance of these findings to demographic research, the specific impact of consanguinity on parameters including age at marriage and first live birth, gross and net fertility, and pre- and postnatal mortality is considered and assessed.

Publication Type: Report
Series Name: PSC Research Report No. 90-186
Publisher: Population Studies Center. University of Michigan
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