several researchers have suggested that cousin marriage rates increase as population size (or survivability) increases (see the articles i linked to at the bottom of this post, for instance). here is alan bittles (the guy who runs consang.net) on the matter [pg. 3]:

“[T]he recorded numbers of consanguineous unions appear to have grown at least in step with increasing national and regional populations, and in some economically less developed countries the proportion of marriages contracted between close biological kin has expanded. The simplest explanation for this observation is that as greater numbers of children survive to marriageable age, the traditional social preference for consanguineous unions can be more readily accommodated.”

hmm. maybe. but i don’t think this is the whole answer to the question. lookie here — according to jurdi and saxena, here’s how the consanguinity rates in some middle eastern countries have changed (or not) over the past decades (all of their references were published in the 1990s, so we’re talking about changes before and up to that point in time):

increasing
yemen
uae (pub. 1997)

stable
jordan (between 1900-1964)
oman (pub. 1996)

declining
bahrain (pub. 1996)
lebanon (pub. 1998)
kuwait (pub. 1996)
syria (pub. 1995)

but look at the population growth rates for these countries (all charts taken from wikipedia. not included are uae and kuwait — no charts available from wikipedia, but those populations have also increased. maybe i’ll whip up some cupcakes charts one of these day. the population data is sourced from the fao. yeah, i know — the scales are all different.):

countries with increasing rates of cousin marriage

yemen:

countries with stable rates of cousin marriage

jordan (between 1900-1964):

oman:

countries with declining rates of cousin marriage

bahrain:

lebanon:

syria:

i dunno. call me crazy, but i see increasing populations in all these countries from the 1950s/1960s onwards — except for lebanon which flatlined during the 1970s/1980s. (and doesn’t that mean there was prolly increased survivability in all these countries, or am i missing something here?)

so, i’m thinkin’ there must be something more to increased rates of cousin marriage than simply increasing population size. what that something is, i’m not sure. but inquiring minds want to know!

previously: inbreeding amongst christian arabs

(note: comments do not require an email. this may mean different things to different people.)

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