surveys of late-twentieth century cousin marriage rates in urban china — places like beijing and shanghai — have found very modern marriage patterns, i.e. very low consanguinity rates (0.7% – 0.8% of all marriages between 1949-67 in those two cities being between first- and second-cousins).
zhaoxiong found that just the first-cousin marriage rate in lijiawan village in hubei between 1949-93 (note that cousin marriage in china has been technically illegal since 1980) was 8.4%. that’s quite a bit higher than the rates above, especially considering that it doesn’t include second-cousin marriages (the rates above do — who knows how many second-cousin marriages there were in lijiawan?).
zhaoxiong also found that mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage was the most common form, followed by mother’s sister’s daughter (mzd) and, then, father’s sister’s daughter (fzd). nobody married their father’s brother’s daughter (fbd).
as wang, et. al., point out: “[T]here is a long history of consanguineous marriage in China….” however, cousin marriage rates in china have been dropping since at least the middle of the twentieth century — but they’re still pretty high in rural communities.
the genetic ties are starting to loosen in china. if they keep it up, that could prove to be a good thing in terms of having a more cohesive rather than a clannish society. don’t ask me how many generations they’ll need to make this happen! wish i could be around in a few hundred years to see how it worked out for them. (^_^)
many thanks to m.g. for the zhaoxiong article! (^_^)
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