i wasn’t imagining it

there were increases in inbreeding after the two world wars in italy. from cavalli-sforza, et. al. [pg. 213]:

why? here’s what the authors theorize [pg. 212]:

“The major irregularities in an otherwise uniform pattern were observed during the World Wars of 1914-1918 and 1940-1945. During these periods consanguineous marriages became less frequent, compared with the total numbers of marriages. In the immediate postwar periods they increased in number to figures higher than before the war. Perhaps marriages were postponed in wartime, due to the difficulty in obtaining dispensations for marriages between relatives; others got married without declaring they were related. Yet other less easily checked reasons might be suspected for this phenomenon, for example, when men returned from the war the reestablishment of family contacts could have encouraged intrafamily marriage. After all, a major reason to marry within the family is that the reciprocal knowledge of a member of the family is greater than that of more superficial, recent acquaintances, and a soldier returning from war may desire to establish a marriage relationship soon. A very familiar person may be a more desirable mate for both man and woman.”

edit: boilerplate and boilerplate 2.0

previously: increases in inbreeding in italy after the wars(?)

(note: comments do not require an email. cocktail anyone?)


  1. I would guess that more likely causes are (1) gossip on who used the war as an excuse to fool around is more accurate/available with relatives, making them more attractive prospects, or (2), even more likely, there were relatives who needed to be taken care of after the wars, and what better way to “support” the widow of your dead uncle or the daughter of your dead uncle than to marry her?


  2. @chris – yes. your second point there makes lots of sense. a lot of peoples who practice cousin marriage regularly say something similar when asked why they marry their cousins — i.e. often something along the lines of how it’s important to take care of other family members especially, for example, in the case of a female cousin who maybe isn’t so attractive or has a very small dowry or is past her reproductive prime. then someone in the family (maybe also down on his luck) will opt to marry her.


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