The economics of cousin marriage

The title of the article is “Cousin Marriage Is Not Choice: Muslim Marriage and Underdevelopment,” by Lena Edlund, and here is the abstract:

According to classical Muslim marriage law, a woman needs her guardian’s (viz. father’s) consent to marry. However, the resulting marriage payment, the mahr, is hers. This split bill may lie behind the high rates of consanguineous marriage in the Muslim world, where country estimates range from 20 to 60 percent. Cousin marriage can stem from a form of barter in which fathers contribute daughters to an extended family bridal pool against sons’ right to draw from the same pool. In the resulting system, women are robbed of their mahr and sons marry by guarding their sisters’ “honor” heeding clan elders.

From the new May American Economic Review.


The article is gated.

Can someone who either understands the last sentence or has access to the article explain how exactly women are robbed of their mahr? Do daughter-contributions to the pool come with complementary mahr-waiver, if only to cement sons' claims?

BTW, quite remarkable that these Muslim communities believe in "sex redistribution" for male-welfare. I had thought of traditional monogamy as more of a ploy by the beta to check the alpha, as opposed to welfare-oriented redistribution. How much of the appeal of Islam comes from its treating males with respect?


Then, from the article draft version:

"Cousin marriage can be viewed as a form of marriage by exchange in which the bride giver’s reward is a bride in return. When two brothers arrange for their sons’s marriage by exchange of daughters the result is cousin marriage. Cousin marriage as a means of diverting resources from the bride to her male kin - thus undoing a principal improvement for women introduced under Islam: the bride being the designated owner of the mahr-"

Of course I had searched for the article's title, but promptly reached the gate and stuck there: I was unaware that journals in disciplines like this had a habit of keeping draft versions available for free. Well, good.

I think the author is confused: cousin-marriage and exchange-marriage are different phenomena but possibly with a lot of overlap. She should have written the latter. Even then, it doesn't make mathematical sense to cancel mahr in the exchange marriage case, but somehow it lets people get away with a bad accounting argument.

I think the implication is that the bride will get a smaller mahr if her marriage is being arranged in exchange for a bride for her brother instead. I.e. the "payment" is being made in the form of another female being given to the brother, rather than in cash.

Which is still bad accounting because the payment was due to her and to not her brother. I say it belongs to her and not her brother because:

According to wikipedia, pre-Islamic Arabs had a mahr system where it was the guardian who gets the money. According to some sources, whom the author seems to trust, it was a progressive step by Islam to require the payment as due to the woman and not the guardian (other sources say pre-Islamic Arabs too had such a practice). In either case tradition is clear that the money is due to the bride, so passing it onto the brother is technically wrong accounting.

That would be hilarious way of messing with Muslims, and would probably get you banned as a troll if you posted it in some Islamist forum. But I appreciate your sense of humor.

The thing is that the wife-swapping is tacit and informal - nobody's actually saying that the bride is a "payment" for another bride. So it's not included in the accounting. But if part of the "price" you have to pay for a wife is your sister, then you're not just going to pay as much in cash. It's just economics. Conversely, if you have no bride to swap, you'll have to pay more in mahr.

I don't think that is how it works: not only does one not say that one bride is payment for the other, one doesn't mean it implicitly either. Most likely, mahr is recast as money which one family owes the other, and the moment you are in this perspective the payments cancel with each other. In other words, the device of exchange marriage makes it psychologically easy to confuse the individual with the family she belongs to, as far as accounting is concerned.

blah: The arrangement is explicit and public. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

It is not bad accounting. Read the paper! The consent is in father's hand. He can decide to bring down the value of mehr in exchange for a bride. The remaining value still goes to the bride but it is much smaller.

Read the paper!

Please don't bullshit so shamelessly.

What you are saying is a very interesting point that I indeed missed, and thanks for that; just don't pretend the paper gets into the specific (and interesting, plausibly correct) causal mechanism you are proposing.

The distinction between exchange and cousin marriage is insightful, thanks. If exchange marriage exists, who are the most probable business partners? The extended family.

I'm not sure but it seems mahr is like insurance for marriage end (divorce, husband death). I would negotiate with my brother that if my son married with his daughter dies mahr is not long as he promises the same.

But this is so cumbersome, why not ignore tradition and call it a day?

I'm an alt-right incel and even though I dislike the Islam faith, their ideas of redistributing sex is amazing progressive. Its the only thing I like, their ability to keep the hypergamy of women in check.

Don't you hate it when a troll beats you to your post. I was just going to say that! Except for the bit about disliking the faith part. If it wasn't for the fact that they were trying to kill me and mine indiscriminately, I would have a lot in common with them.

As Blah says, it is interesting that Muslims have used a loop hole in Islamic law to make sure that poor Muslim men with kin have wives. Christianity is one of the many religions that is more female than male. Islam, by way of contrast, is more likely to be supported by notionally Muslim men than by notionally Muslim women. This may well be why.

Are "So Much for Sublety May 16, 2018 at 4:20 am" and "So Much For Subtlety May 16, 2018 at 4:26 am" the same or different people?

I was being only a semi-troll here: on one hand it is fun to troll Tyler for whom both Islam and female-chauvinism are dear to heart, but I do think there is a valuable idea here which needs to be refined and expanded.

One odd phenomenon I have observed in my country (India) is that people seem to have internalized aesthetic conventions according to which Islam is masculine and Hinduism is feminine, which resonates with your comment about Christianity vs Islam. I don't think this has been studied well.

Well the voice in my head says that I am the Only One and I should not believe anyone who says otherwise. But he would say that wouldn't he?

The interesting question comes from the openness of Muslim society - Muslim men can and did marry anyone - voluntarily or not. The opposite, I assume, of Hindu society at the time. They were polygamous so that there would be a shortage of women.

So you would expect a flow of women from non-Muslim communities to Muslim communities where Muslims held power or were just not persecuted.

Which means that subjugated societies either developed ways to prevent the flow of women to Muslim communities or they disappeared. The same presumably applies to low-status Muslim communities - their women would flow to more powerful Muslim groups and they would slowly disappear.

So that may explain child marriage in Hindu society. To prevent them from moving, voluntarily or not, into Muslim society, you need to marry them off young. But what did, say, the Greeks or the Copts of Egypt do?

Perhaps the masculinity of Islam is related to the fact that it was controlled and spread by military power. If it lasts another milenium it may become more feminine since women by nature tend to have more social power than men and it will be hard for even Islam to check this forever.

Somewhere I read this insightful description of difference between Christianity and Islam, I am paraphrasing: Christianity had Christ and Constantine as separate people, while Mo was his own Constantine.ttcon

Constantine was a very early figure in Christian history (4th century)

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, and arguably for the next half a millennium if not more, atleast in Continental Europe, the church was the pre-eminent power and even temporal rulers deferred to the church.

The church vs state distinction developed towards the end of the first half of the second millennium. Henry VIII's revolt against the Catholic church being a key event in this process of secularization.

Some would point to this quote as illustrating that the process of secularization (in the sense of a distinction between church and state)was found right at the start of Christianity - "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" Matthew 22:21]

Other, more theocratically minded people, disagree of course.

True. But that quote comes from a very early period (pre 4th century) and definitely precedes the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

After the sack and fall of Rome, I think it is fair to say that people looked up to the Church as the supreme power in Europe. For the next 1000 years. Notwithstanding some important temporal monarchs in the intervening period like Charlemagne.

You are describing only Western Christianity and not even all of that. In the East the church was generally subservient to the throne for thousands of years (e.g. the Tsars stopped the church from having a formal patriarch for hundreds of years and only the Communists let the Russian Church elect a new one).

In much of the West there was a period of pagan dominance that ended with the pagans converting. This greatly tempered the union between church and state. Investures, abbies, medicants ... the medieval church just was not that unified of an institution.

The power and unity of the Caliph in matters both religious and temporal was vastly greater than the church throughout the centuries.

To say "The church vs state distinction developed towards the end of the first half of the second millennium" seems an over-simplification, as Church and State in Europe remained largely independent power centers (and, not surprisingly, were often at odds).

Further muddying the waters is the Pope's temporal authority; that is, direct earthly control over the Papal States.

Everyone's heard of Henry IV at Canossa, yet princes and kings could and did continue to name prelates, in defiance of church authority.

As for Constantine I, it was he (not the Church) that called and presided over the (the first) Council of Nicea, even though what was being decided there was basic Christian doctrine.

In short, it's not as if the medieval Catholic Church had any significant power over secular authority in Western Europe, at least outside of areas that arguably belonged to the Church anyway (such as the right to name persons to high Church offices). Although the Church was usually successful in remaining independent of secular authority (except during the Avignon Papacy, at least).

In medieval Western Europe, the Church and secular authority were often in conflict. Sometimes the Church won, sometimes secular authority won, but mostly there was no clear victor and thus the need for some degree of mutual accommodation.

And, yes, it's difficult to see anything similar in the history of Islamic states, at least outside the brief rise of Arab Nationalism after WWII (and somewhat within the context of the Cold War).

Thanks for the comments.

I don't think the temporal rule was ever independent of the church though. How about the Crusades? These were very very large scale military endeavors sought and sponsored partly by the Church.

Where's the church vs state distinction when we are talking of crusades?

"the church was the pre-eminent power and even temporal rulers deferred to the church": and yet the French and Spanish monarchs, not the Pope, appointed their bishops.

@Subtlety: It is possible that there is a lot of truth to it, looking at today's Pakistan:

It says (in a Pakistani context): "According to this report, every month, an estimated 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted and converted, although exact figures are impossible to gather."

Also, it says: "Last year, Malik converted two Hindu men and 15 Hindu women. Asked about this ratio, he said: “Hindu women come readily to us because after conversion we facilitate their marriages to Muslims.” "

And in the thread from two days ago there were people saying that "incel" is not used as an insult.

Maybe incels should take responsibility for their acts instead of blaming society for their shortcomings.

Why is it that when someone creates a word for a group of people, all of a sudden all of the people that the word is used to describe become morally responsible for each other's actions?

The point is, I am sick and tired of people trying to shrink from their responsibilities and blaming society for their flaws.

Don't be such an incel Thiago

"According to classical Muslim marriage law, a woman needs her guardian’s (viz. father’s) consent to marry"

I am just curious here. But in a de-facto way wasn't this largely true across most cultures until the 18th century?

How many women in Elizabethan England married explicitly against their father's wishes, or did not consider necessary to seek his approval before marriage? I would expect that number to be extremely low.

Infact, even today, it is important for most girls to take their boyfriends home to see mom and dad, and get their assent.

Sure, perhaps the dad's word is no longer binding as it once was. But subconsciously women do choose boyfriends who they think will be favorably perceived by her parents.

Even at the height of the sexual revolution, there was this "liberal" director Stanley Kramer who made the movie "Guess who's coming to Dinner" where both the girl (Katherine Houghton) and her black boyfriend (Sidney Poitier) take a great deal of trouble to convince their parents to assent to their marriage. Sure, Kramer being a liberal, adds some lines to suggest their assent is not absolutely essential to the couple, but we all know it is important. And the whole movie revolves around the kids trying their utmost to convince their parents.

This was 1967.

In fiction, love stories don't work unless there is some barrier to love that the couple must overcome. This is why getting the parent's consent continued to a plot point long after it ceased to be a barrier in real life.

Actually, it was de jure true in the U.S. considerably beyond the 18th century, apparently.

At least I was taught that even in the 1920s, in Prince William court documents, the process of marriage looked the same as any property exchange, with the woman passing from the legal possession of her father to the legal possession of her husband.

However, it is a necessary caveat to point out that marriage laws are a state matter in the U.S., though the Constitution does apply. Virginia, for example, is not allowed to ban marriages between citizens based on the race of the citizens marrying, for example. Further, that one county courthouse did things one way does not mean that other parts of the Commonwealth of Virginia were the same.

"According to classical Muslim marriage law, a woman needs her guardian’s (viz. father’s) consent to marry"

It is definitely part of the Christian tradition - part of the Church's efforts to weaken the extended family. But this is a mis-statement of the Islamic tradition. A girl does not need her father's permission. Her father needs the girl's consent. Which is assumed if she is silent. So it is pretty much a dead letter.

As for people who require the girl to seek her father's approval, I would doubt that was true in any Asian tradition including Hinduism.

"It is definitely part of the Christian tradition - part of the Church's efforts to weaken the extended family." Historically incorrect. The church only needed and wanted the two spouses to agree - but in late medieval times family "values" as in real money started to lobby a change in the rules and then the Council of Trent in the Catholic world plus Luther's revolution on the other side simultaneously moved the consent thing to be a family matter.

It's all good. Two or three hundred years ago, English law (myth?) had it's "Rule of Thumb" in which the husband could beat the wife so long as the stick (wouldn't want to hurt one's hand) was not thicker than his thumb.

It will stay good for Muslim men. Few genitally-mutilated women will decide they no longer agree with being treated like chattel.

Not to worry, Muslim men! In the name of "tolerance," the leftists smart kids "have your backs."

Maybe America should stop supporting Wahhabist terrorism. America invented Wahhabist terrorism as a weapon against the Soviet Union.

Myth. There's no evidence that's the origination of the expression "rule of thumb."

That's "myth" in the sense of utter drivel.

"How many women in Elizabethan England married explicitly against their father's wishes?": I don't know, but I do know that the necessity for paternal consent depended on the age of the participants. Indeed it still does. WKPD:

"The legal minimum age to enter into a marriage in England and Wales is sixteen years, although this requires consent of parents and guardians if a participant is under eighteen".

Here's an interesting find: apparently the need for parental consent came quite late in England.
'This is also the period (1754) from which the idea of "full age" being
required and the concept of parental consent/legal permission being
introduced for those below "full age".'

FYI, the May AER is no longer called the AER, but AEA P&P.

It isn't so much a question of paternal consent, as it is of control over the selection process. Western women for centuries--certainly back to the sixteenth century, maybe back to ancient times--have been allowed to spend time with unmarried males and to make their own selection of marriage partners, subject only to a greater or lesser degree of paternal veto. In many non-Western cultures, by contrast, unmarried women have almost no social contact with males other than nuclear family members, and their marital partners are chosen for them (perhaps with some modest consent requirement on their part).

Perhaps you are right

But isnt marriage in its essence an act of faith? Sure. Maybe there was a courtship period. But how much is enough? One date? Five dates? Ten dates? Or living in for a while?

Where does one draw the line? We all know western Christianity was not ok with pre marital sex. So we know there was a line. And consent of parents too mattered in most marriages. I would argue it is a significant factor even today especially among well to do whites

It really does go back a long way,.

Oops. Accidentally hit the submit button by mistake. I was going to comment that there is some historical evidence for this, particularly in Viking society women had greater freedom to select mates, divorce, and run the household and farm while the men were out raiding.

That's true in every society.

There is a long standing tradition of "Gandharva vivaha" (love marriage) in India where the woman elopes with her lover, and the resulting union is considered legitimate.

Also in general, in India, the lower castes have had more freedom to date and choose their partner than upper caste women.

But I was talking about the norm in the society. The norm has always been to seek the consent of the father before you marry someone. True in every society.

Exceptions merely prove the rule.

A classic movie that I recall is "The Heiress" starring Olivia De Havilland and Montgomery Clift from 1949. I think it is based on a Henry James novel - "Washington Square" set in 1840s NYC.

The girl in the movie just cannot marry without her father's consent. The father's judgment by the way, is superior to hers. He rightly regards Clift as a wastrel, while she is enamored by his attentiveness and good looks. The only way out for her is to elope with him. It's a different matter that the elopement doesn't happen.

This is an 1840s story set in New York City - arguably one of the more liberal parts of the Western world at the time. Strongly suggesting that paternal consent was critical even in that late date.

"The girl in the movie just cannot marry without her father's consent. "

Not a legal requirement, just a social norm enforced by his control of money. If she wanted to defy her father, she could have.

Marriage for love was not common in upper class circles even in 1840 NYC though. Nor in 1900 NYC, witness the large number of marriages of heiresses to impoverished aristocrats.

Marriage for love was not common in upper class circles even in 1840 NYC though.

You can verify this how? Start by asking yourself how you'd define 'marriage for love'.

Nor in 1900 NYC, witness the large number of marriages of heiresses to impoverished aristocrats.

I'm not witnessing. I can think of about four cases I once saw profiled in a period history. It's a reasonable wager there were roughly 20,000 wealthy families in New York ca. 1900, who might have had at any one time 1,000 daughters between the ages of 18 and 30.

The Heiress is yet another William Wyler masterpiece. Some others: The Best Years of Our Lives, Dodsworth, Ben-Hur, Roman Holiday, The Letter, Mrs. Miniver, and Counseller-at-Law. Counsellor-at-Law is almost forgotten, but should be on any top 100 films list.

I see it is difficult for people with no person to person contact with Arabs to understand the system. In Arab societies there is a deficit of marriageable females, which causes to "purchase" pre-pubescent brides. On the other hand, scarcity can be so harsh that only trading in a sister or daughter can allow someone to get a female. Honor killing are common and necessary to terrorize the girls to accept their status of exchange goods. Trading in the family provides some security that one is not being cheated and sold an "old hag".

In fundamentalist mormon communities, which also practice polygamy, there's similar problems, but the effect is instead of forced marriages, that the unmarried men are exiled from the community. I suppose that can only work as long as the polygamous group is a small subculture. Otherwise there's nowhere to exile the men TO.

The traditional Islamic solution is to use the spare men as cannon fodder for conquests against the infidel.

If they prevail, they return with wealth and sex-slaves. If they fall, well, the male-surplus problem is solved.

It seems to me that the monogamy-polygamy choice is quite a foundational one for societies.

It could work in a different direction. Female empowerment could lead to more monogamy since women are unlikely to want to share a husband. A more liberal egalitarian society would also mean that the selection of mates is relatively equal, so there's not much to be gained by being the second or third wife. I think Western culture could tolerate the existence of legal polygamy since women will rarely agree to it voluntarily. Worth noting that in polygamous cultures, the wife doesn't get veto power over future wives. If the US had legal polygamy it would have to be agreed to by all members of the marriage, which would make it self-limiting.

"Female empowerment could lead to more monogamy since women are unlikely to want to share a husband"

Data says no. Obviously, there are exceptions, but many women will clearly prefer a part share on a Alpha male to an whole share of a beta. The % of woman pursuing this strategy will vary, of course, but is greater than 0, and will increase further if male resources are unevenly distributed (making a part-share in a Alpha more relatively attractive). Some societies deliberately engineer for this.

More precisely: Monogamy favours BETA males and ALPHA females. Polygamy favours BETA females and ALPHA males. Under free-association, of course.

Hazel, you're right that "women don't want to share a husband". But you are mis-characterising the system by not stating the full set of choices for the female. They are broadly:

1. Share an Alpha
2. Own a Beta
3. Remain single.

(3) is obviously a loser, except as a waiting strategy in the hope that more options will come. But many women will prefer (1) to (2), Especially if the Alpha-Beta male gap is large.

Very wealthy and powerful males never seem to want for mistresses.

The data you're looking at are from societies where women are relatively unempowered. And you're overlooking a second major problem with polygamous marriages from the woman's perspective. It's not just about finding a good husband; you also have to get along with the other wives. Option A entails a future of infighting amongst wives for the favor of the man, including potential threats to one's offspring, especially in the event of the man's death. What happens to the children of the third wife when the first wive's son takes control of the household.

As I noted above, if the US were to legalize polygamy it would almost certainly require all the wives/husbands to agree to any future marriage, which would prevent such marriages from growing very large. (Imagine trying to get two bickering wives to agree on a third.)
In other societies, the way polygamy is usually practiced, the first wives don't get to decide who else is going to join the marriage - only the husband gets to decide. This is a product of those societies already being oppressive towards women. If both partners have to agree, 99% of the time wife #1 is going to veto ANY choice of wife #2. The husband would have to pay her a lot of money to get her to agree to a second wife.

Yes, I'm looking at societies where women exercise the majority of their mating choices. Agreed. (And in those societies we see lots of polygamous behaviour even if nominally monogamous). I don't want to stress that point too much, but the maths suggests that polygamy may be a lot more "natural" equilibrium than monogamy. It's not just an artefact of some primitive culture...

Agreed the "relationship with other wives" is a real problem in polygamy. Women are naturally inclined to either dispose of their competition or at least become "first wife". Did you ever see the Family Guy Saudi Arabia episode?

Interesting thought about requiring N agreements to get the N+1 wide into the marriage. This would clearly reduce the extremes of the distribution. But I wonder if it really effects the distribution we would get under raw bargaining power: what if an alpha male simply insisted that he had primacy as a condition of marriage to his first wife? Benedict Cumberbatch agrees to marry you if you agree that he can have up to 3 other wives at a later point? It's still an attractive offer (!?)

"As I noted above, if the US were to legalize polygamy it would almost certainly require all the wives/husbands to agree to any future marriage, which would prevent such marriages from growing very large. (Imagine trying to get two bickering wives to agree on a third.)"

Indeed. It would seem formalised polygamy would limit (alpha) male gains.

I might mischievously note even in our monogamous system, alpha husbands have plenty of mistresses and affairs without the 'permission' of their wife. So we're perhaps expecting the law would affect human mating behaviour and the heterogeneity of mating distributions more than it really does.

+1. Good summary of the system and incentives.

Why is there a deficit of marriageable females in Arab societies?

No one knows the precise why in south Asia, Middle East, and North Africa there are more men than women.

Amartya Sen suggested is a the outcome of female infanticide, chronic malnutrition of daughters, sex selective abortion, honor killings, slavery, etc.

Emily Oster attributed it to Hepatitis B, other researchers have pointed at other illnesses.

Since there's no good data, the definite answer is missing. What is known for sure is that several million more men than women in these regions.

Interesting. I looked up the Wikipedia page:

It seems like there are equal sex ratios for people under age 15, but at older ages there are many more men than women.
So not infanticide or sex selective abortion.
I'd add possibly suicide and maybe that the women just aren't being counted in the census because the men are keeping them locked up.

Better explanation:
Saudi Arabia, along with other Persian Gulf states, attract a lot of male immigrants to work in the oil fields.

UAE, for instance, has to be the case. You don't get a 3-to-1 ratio of men to women via infanticide.

Good. Yes. Migrant labour. That should do it. +1

This is one of those things that is obvious in retrospect.

OK, so we have differential death rates in adult-hood. Interesting.

Deaths in childbirth? Or simply the women are being worked to death (faster)? I never cease to be amazed when travelling to some ....less enlightened....places by how the women are all out working the fields at high noon whilst the men are lazing in the 'effing café playing dominos.

I think biologically 1000 boys are actually born for somewhere between 950 and 960 girls. Yes there is female foeticide ("abortion") on the top of this, but the biological discrepancy also needs to be taken into account.

Earlier many more boys used to die because the male foetus is slightly less robust than the female foetus, but technology has leveled the playing field, so these boys mostly survive (so, understandably, the proportion of girl children born is higher among African Americans than among whites).

So how does the US solve the problem of excess male children being born? I don't know, may be improved technology increases the number of incels?

If I am not wrong the sex ratio at birth is biased towards males in just about every country on earth.

Probably because couples get pregnant until the time they have a male child. A subconscious preference for a male heir is universal

"Probably because couples get pregnant until the time they have a male child. A subconscious preference for a male heir is universal"

You realise this stopping rule doesn't change the sex ratio?

Try it out with coin tosses. See what happens.

Yes, I thought about that.

But maybe it isn't a strict stopping rule. I am thinking aloud here, on how "conception" preferences can work out in a way to render the sex ratio favorable to males.

How do you explain more males than females at birth? Even in countries like US and UK? Where there is zero chance of female infanticide.

Nature just seems to be 51% to 49%. It seems to be the most stable evolutionary strategy.

Remember, game theory only predicts there should be an 50/50 split of sexually mature members of each sex. Basically, a greater proportion of males die before or early in sexual maturity. So by the time they are available as desirable mates, the numbers are about even.

The sex ratio at birth is 1.05 males per female in US.

That's not insignificant. That's a huge bias. Hard to rationalize. I like Hazel's point of the swimming speeds :)

Duh! Hazel is perfectly right on the immediate causal mechanism.

But that doesn't explain WHY 1.05 to 1 seems to be a stable ratio, does it?

You need to explain any variance away from 50-50 in game theoretic terms. If men and women don't have the same number of children (on average, because there is more of one sex than another, so men have 1.95 kids and women have 2.05 for example) there is very strong selection pressure towards the minority sex. How does ratio this endure in the face of such pressure?

It’s nature’s way of compensating for the fragility of males, the ratio at puberty would be 1:1. Better medicine has increased male survival ratios. The ratio at birth also changes in situations of stress like famines.

In India and China, the ratio is 1.14:1 due to female infanticide and selective abortion. It was probably the same in pre-Islamic Arabia where the dowry was paid by the bride’s family to the groom’s as in India today or Europe not that long ago.

But males are considerably LESS fragile than females. They have greater trauma resistance on every metric the army studied.

The gametes with the Y chromosome have slightly lower mass which makes them swim a little faster.

A lot of the (relatively small) male excess kills itself off early in, or before, sexual maturity, or at least before they become valuable potential partners. By mid-20's the gender balance is about equal, and if you compare 25-year old males to 20 year old females (to control for age differential preference) then the numbers work out fine.

Ironically, a lot of these male excess deaths are often related to mate-attracting activities.

This paper passed peer review? She is wrong on two critical points:

Classical Islamic law does requires the consent of three parties for a marriage to be valid (groom, brides father/male guardian, bride). This is the opinion of even the most conservative scholars. Edlund provides no evidence or citations to the contrary (at least in the draft version).

Secondly, Muslims are not automata that blindly follow Sharia law... There are numerous studies showing the variance of Muslim practice and adherence to classical Sharia law, none of which Edlund bothered to engage with.

There are a number of other factual errors/omissions (mahr payment size variation, cousin marriage incidence in non Muslim countries, etc.)... Too many for me to address in a comment I am typing on a phone.

What the author writes is: "Three of the four Sunni schools are of the opinion that the guardian has the sole authority with respect to the marriage of his sane and major female ward if she is a virgin. Only if she has been previously married is her consent also required (alongside that of the guardian’s). Only the Hanafi school allows the woman to contract her own marriage, but this right is undermined by two provisions. First, the wali can dissolve the marriage. Second, the above power of the father (or guardian) to contract a minor daughter into marriage by force holds even in the Hanafi school."

I don't know if she is right or you are, but at least she has bothered to distinguish between the views of the four schools while you seem to not bother with that.

I did not distinguish between the four Sunni schools of thought because all are in agreement regarding this issue - the bride has to consent to the marriage agreement. The operative hadith that the scholars refer to are:

‘Aishah asked Prophet Muhammad if women must be asked for their permission of marriage. Prophet Muhammad replied, “Yes. ” She said, ‘The virgin is asked for her permission but she gets shy. Prophet Muhammad said, “Her silence is her permission. ” (Bukhari; Muslim)

"Ibn 'Abbas related that a virgin girl came to the Prophet and mentioned that her father had married her against her will and so the Prophet gave her the choice." (Abu Dawud)

Even (the crazy Wahhabi-Saudi website, doesn't follow a particular school of thought) is of the opinion that a bride's consent is required.

This seems true, but irrelevant. The author notes that a *minor* bride's consent is not necessary, and an adult bride's consent is not sufficient. The key point would appear to be that the wali must in all cases consent, ergo, is a choke-point in the decision process and can protect his own interests.

What strikes me is that the mahr sounds like a dower, so you would expect a similar system to evolve anywhere that dower is practiced. Is that the case?

What in the world is an "'honor' heeding clan elders"?

Honor killing in Arab society means that the brother or father or clan leader kills the rebellious girl. If the girl resists marrying the man chosen by her family, she brings horrible dishonor on the clan. If the other party already has supplied the marriageable girl and the clan fails to correspond, the rebel has to be killed to show the sincerity of the family. And of course pay indemnities or an alternative female. Should they fail to defend their "honor". no one will enter into marriage exchange with them. Or worse.

What's more pathetic about this whole thing is not the female economic empowerment, but the massive degree of congenital birth defects and recessive disorders co-sanguineous marriage promotes throughout the muslim world.

Here in the UK we have extensive provision for very sick children dominated about 20-to-1 by South Asian Muslims relative to their size in the general population.

One cousin pairing is not too risky, but several generations of group inbreeding have raised the odds of serious screw well towards 10%.

AER must have gone seriously downhill if they accepted this for publication. There is a more basic reason for the prevalence of cousin marriage in Muslim societies. Inheritances are split equally between the progeny of an estate owner as opposed to Western primogeniture so land, assets etc. easily get fragmented into small holdings instead of passing intact to the eldest son. Marriage between cousins reduces property disputes between siblings since their grandchildren will inherit it all regardless. Additionally in low trust tribal societies, it is much easier to vet kinfolk since you are in frequent contact with them thus parents can take some assurance that the son of the father's brother etc. who they have seen grow up is less likely to mistreat their daughter if she becomes his spouse. The Indian folk here can correct me but anecdotally it seems there is a lot less cousin marriage in India but domestic abuse of brides by their in-laws is more prevalent than it is in Pakistan\Bangladesh etc.

"The Indian folk here can correct me but anecdotally it seems there is a lot less cousin marriage in India but domestic abuse of brides by their in-laws is more prevalent than it is in Pakistan\Bangladesh "

I am not too sure about that. Southern India has a major cousin marriage problem. While in Northern India it is strictly taboo.

Domestic abuse of brides is on its way down, across all geographies. I am not sure if this is even tracked in any meaningful way.

"as opposed to Western primogeniture": what makes you think it's "western"? It was the custom in England. That's not the same thing.

Don't confuse primogeniture with respect to monarchies or titles of nobility with primogeniture covering family land and wealth.

Thanks for the correction.

Cousin marriage binds a clan closer together and keeps property within the family -- important in a environment of extreme scarcity such as a desert. I would guess that dowry allocation is a *result* of cousin marriage, not a cause of cousin marriage.

Cousin marriage is hardly unique to Muslim cultures (e.g., the Darwin family), and there are Muslim societies with fairly low rates of cousin marriage. It seems like an ancient cultural practice that Islam exacerbates less by encouraging it than by not doing things to discourage it.

The Saudis have recently noticed that now that they've dealt with most infectious disease that genetic birth defects caused by cousin marriage are being proportionately significant a cause of bad health. My impression is that cousin marriage rates in the Middle East have started to dip in this century after rising steadily in the later 20th Century due to better health care increasing the chances of having a living cousin of the opposite sex and about the right age range.

Modern Western laws exacerbate cousin marriage by encouraging marriage between Muslim girls born in the west and their Old Country cousins who need a visa to immigrate. In response, the Danish have raised the age for this kind of marriage visa to 24 to give the Muslim girls born in Denmark longer to rebel against their clans. But most Western elites consider it deplorable to even be aware of this widespread abuse of both female rights and the immigration system.

Peter Thiel has it right. We need to take the vote away from women. Feminism is a cancer and women today have shown that they cannot responsibly select a mate by shunning betas and going for Chads. Too many American men will be forced to become incels. Its time we institute redistribution of sex.

Don't be such a wuss. Women need to be slaves to men, sexually and otherwise.

The famed explorer Richard Burton had some crackpot but highly entertaining theories about this:

Such is the Badawi, and such he has been for ages. The national type has been preserved by systematic intermarriage. The wild men do not refuse their daughters to a stranger, but the son-in-law would be forced to settle among them, and this life, which has its charms for a while, ends in becoming wearisome. Here no evil results are anticipated from the union of first cousins, and the experience of ages and of a mighty nation may be trusted. Every Badawi has a right to marry his father’s brother’s daughter before she is given to a stranger; hence “cousin” (Bint Amm) in polite phrase signifies a “wife.13” Our physiologists14 adduce the Sangre Azul of Spain and the case of the lower animals to prove that degeneracy inevitably follows “breeding-in.15”
Either they have theorised from insufficient facts, or civilisation and artificial living exercise some peculiar influence, or Arabia is a solitary exception to a general rule. The fact which I have mentioned is patent to every Eastern traveller.

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