cousin marriage rates in modern china

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).

rural areas, otoh, have remained more inbred — rural hubei province having rates between 2.8% – 4.3% between 1949-67.

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! (^_^)

previously: cousin marriage in china and abridged history of cousin marriage in china and china today… and china and landlordism and what else happened during the middle ages?

(note: comments do not require an email. the future!)

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6 Comments

  1. “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”

    but not too much, maybe? that’s the bit i wonder about – what the optimum level is.

    Reply

  2. @g.w. – “that’s the bit i wonder about – what the optimum level is.”

    well, that’s the question, isn’t it? plus a couple of other things:

    1) there must be some lag-time here ’cause evolution doesn’t happen over night, so how not to over shoot (like i think nw europeans have)?

    2) the evolution of genes for ‘whatever’ doesn’t happen in isolation, so how on earth to control for all the other effects from other directions particularly when one might not have anticipated them … well, i dunno.

    any sort of inbreeding or outbreeding program for adjusting altruistic behaviors would probably be approximate at best. iow, i think you could probably guess that lots of outbreeding would lead to less “sib-altruism” genes in the population, but what exactly you’d get at the end of the day … who knows?!

    Reply

  3. @ – “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! ”

    Hope they don’t go through a nationalist phase.

    Reply

  4. “Hope they don’t go through a nationalist phase”

    Actually if the theory is right they will – yikes!

    Reply

  5. I am marrying my cousin and it is great! Much better than my previous marriage and if you look at the genetics it is a “non-issue”.. 20% marriages worldwide are between cousins and 10% in the U.K… cousincouples.com has a lot of good information..

    Randall

    Reply

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