inbreeding amongst christian arabs

ihtg wonders how much christian arabs inbreed. ask and ye shall receive!

in a study published in 1984, a survey of the rural arab population in western galilee in israel found a 39% rate of consanguineous marriage (that included 1C and 2C). specifically, druze = 49%; muslim arabs = 40%; and christian arabs = 29%. the most common cousin marriage form was first cousin, fbd marriage.

the rates weren’t very different in 1990-92 (this was a “whole israel” study): druze = 47%; muslim arabs = 42%; and christian arabs = 22%. (recall, the rates in southern italy in the early ’60s are comparable to these druze and muslim arab rates! but cross-cousin marriage was/is more common there, i.e. not fbd marriage.)

and while they’re not exactly arabs, the lebanese are in the neighborhood — here from a study done in beirut in 1983-84:

so, the rate of cousin-marriage amongst lebanese christians was 16.5% while the rate for muslims approached double that at 29.6%.

christians married cousins more distant than first cousins at a slightly higher rate than they did first cousins: 8.6% (>1C) versus 7.9% (1C). muslims, on the other hand, favored first cousin marriage: 17.3% (1C) versus 12.3% (>1C). this is a similar pattern found elsewhere in the middle east/arab world. in egypt, for instance, copts tend to marry second cousins while muslims tend to marry first cousins (no, i can’t find the reference!).

there was also more fbd marriage amongst muslims (6.4%) versus christians (3%).

btw, a study published in 2009 found an overall consanguinity rate for beirut and other areas of lebanon to be 35.5%, so cousin marriage is obviously not going away in lebanon.

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