Saudi facts of the day

Consanguineous marriage is preferred in many countries, especially by Muslims. Despite the increasing education rate in Saudi Arabia, the prevalence of consanguineous marriage does not seem to be decreasing as quickly as expected. The present study aimed to investigate the current prevalence of consanguineous marriage among educated married adults in Riyadh and to determine the factors favouring it. The cross-sectional study was conducted in 2017–18 using an online questionnaire. A total of 550 questionnaires were sent to married adults of both sexes and 417 responded, giving a response rate of 75.8%. The questionnaire consisted of two parts: the first section asked for demographic data such as age, sex, educational level, residential area and family size. The second part was about consanguineous marriage and its degree if present, family history of consanguineous marriage and level of awareness of its potential negative impact on offspring. It was found that the prevalence of consanguineous marriage among the participating educated adults was 39.8% and most of these were married to a first cousin. Neither level of education nor age affected the likelihood of consanguineous marriage, but predictors for the practice among the educated participating adults were having a family history of consanguineous marriage, having consanguineous parents and having a personal preference for consanguineous marriage.

That is from a new paper by Mahboub, Alsaqabi, Allwimi, and Aleissa.  Via the excellent Kevin Lewis.


Guess it explains why you can have all the money in the world but still be constantly screwing everything up.

As noted by Steve Sailer on the-website-that-shall-not-be-named, this rate of cousin-marrying carries over to ex-pats living in Europe as well, implying that proximity to cultures that frown on cousin-marrying is not having much effect, at least not yet. Maybe they could just emigrate to Alabama, amirite?!

'Steve Sailer on the-website-that-shall-not-be-named'

You mean you cannot mention Unz, Takimag or VDare here? Or does Steve Sailer post on some truly non-respectable web sites that I am not familiar with?

In the UK the rate is actually higher than Saudi in certain communities - about 50%.

We have had to open specialist childcare units in certain northern cities to deal with the congenitally disabled offspring of these cousin marriages. Any visit to Great Ormond Street will also show a surprising number of South Asian children undergoing care, relative to their numbers in the UK population.

No one talks about it.

A friend talks about it. She left her job in one of these childcare units when she realised that couples who had already had one such child would then show up a year or two later with another dreadfully damaged mite. She could bear no more.

"Be it so. This marrying of cousins is your custom; prepare the marriage bed. But my nation has also a custom. When consanguineous coupling results in an inordinate number of congenitally disabled children, we erect specialist childcare units to ease the burden on the consanguineous couples concerned that they might be encouraged to procreate further in our country regardless of genetics. Let us all act according to national customs."

The land of hope and glory isn’t what it once was. It’s too bad there isn’t a suicide hotline for nations.

Does "shark lasers" have data on consanguineous marriages in Alabama? Or does he/she just like posting stupid, unsupported and classist nonsense?

I prefer Napiers (?) original.

Interestingly, we don't have anything like the same problem with South Asian Hindus communities.

Saudi customs are as far from South Asian Hindu communities as you can imagine.
Hindus have the custom of gotra (clan) and you don't marry within your gotra. From Wikipedia "In Indian Hindu culture, the term gotra (Sanskrit: गोत्र) is commonly considered to be equivalent to clan. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor or patriline. Generally the gotra forms an exogamous unit, with the marriage within the same gotra being prohibited by custom, being regarded as incest.[1]"


It makes sense it would be higher in Europe, there would be more pressure to band together and a more narrow field of trust open to them.

Perhaps it's because in Britain it's not Arabs that are the source of the damaged children but Punjabi peasants. Unless, of course, you take the view that they are all alike, these muzzies.

All trouble. But some worse trouble than others.

The US has a low Consanguineous marriage rate. Canada for example has a far higher percentage.

No Christian preachers spreading the fear of castration, Freud would say.

Some revealing open-ended questions would have been:

1. Would you prefer to marry consanguineously, versus some other way (and if other way, what way?) [for people not yet married]

2. [For married people]. Did you marry consanguineously, or some other way (if other way, how). How did it work out? Do you think things would have turned out better if you had chosen a different way from the one you did? Were you in fact free to choose another way? Or, what were the costs and benefits of consanguineous vs. other? What were your actual options? WTF is wrong with you deplorable people, WTF don't you do things the right way like the Anglo-American Christians do?

I admit I'm pretty surprised to learn that a preference for consanguineous marriage and that being raised up in a family and culture of consanguineous marriage are predictors of consanguineous marriage. I didn't see that coming.

'I didn't see that coming.'

As noted in another post's comment, apparently the era of counter intuitive results as a way to gain attention, ala freakonomics, is over, having been replaced by noting the mundane and commonplace as a method to gain attention.

Despite my education and age my preference for visiting Marginal Revolution is a good predictor of my visiting Marginal Revolution.

Rather, can't wait 'til the oil runs out of morons! :-)

Genetic testing will -- marginally -- reduce consanguineous marriage. It will mostly "solve" the main problem of such relationships. Well, apart from being your own granpa, that is.

Seems to me that I have a better chance of impregnating my brothers wife and escaping detection if we all share DNA.

Only works if you and your brother are identical twins. And of you are, it's a relationship issue, not a genetic one.

But what I am referring to is genetic screening before marriage to determine the likelihood of genetic disease in any potential offspring. This will prevent some consanguineous marriages -- precisely the ones that are most at risk of genetic disorders in children.

And that's why me must import them by the millions.

It's surprising (to me) how many states allow first cousin marriage:

I like Maine: it allows first cousin marriage with proof of genetic counseling from a "genetic counselor". Get this: there are close to 5,000 "certified" genetic counselors. Tabarrok may have something to say about that. Here's the web site for the National Society of Genetic Counselors ("Celebrating 40 Years"):

First cousin marriage isn't a great idea; but the risk is bumped up only by a few % points, if there is no family history of such.

As this study makes clear, the problem with Arab co-sanguinity is that there have been several generations of the same families inter-marrying. The risk is waaaaay higher than for a one-off cousin marriage.

From the outside, cousin marriage looks like a race to the bottom.

Keeping the capital inside the family may provide economic benefits. But once the technique becomes widespread among the whole population the economic benefits disappear, a few generations later all is left are genetic consequences.

It only takes one generation of outbreeding to remove all the effects of inbreeding, so plenty of opportunity for the cycle to repeat itself. In pre-industrial agrarian societies at least.

This may explain why Saudi Arabia is not worse. Cousin marriage may be the preferred behavior by the family/society. But, there's always people going against the family wishes. If every X generations there's a disruption in the inbreeding, that yields a new equilibrium which is neither the healthy out-breeding nor the Amish/Mormon accumulation of genetic problems.

It seems the outcome depends on who strictly followed are cultural norms. A bit of hypocrisy may change things a lot =)

Yep. You could argue the opportunity costs are growing, though, in the 21st century. With human capital becoming more important than physical capital, the rational, modernist move is to get as far away from such practices as possible, but institutions are like this are stubborn.

You know, I think we are witnessing a turning point here. Until now, America had been fairly passive while Drumpf were destroying our laws and our standing int he world and doing all sort of chaotic malarkey, but I think Me. Biden's brave, principled stand revived the power of those who oppose America's descending into totalitarianism.

Where are you posting from now, Thiago?

The increased risk of birth defects are about the same as those of having first pregnancy at 40 rather than 30. I.e. as long as the age of first birth is lower in consanguineous marriages, they win.

Is that true if they have been cousin-shagging for generations? Or indeed neice-shagging?

No, probably not. But European royalty inbred for centuries and still managed to hang onto power during that time.

Well, it didn't work out so well for the Spanish Hapsburgs, but they did things like uncle and niece marriage.

The Spanish Habsburgs had hereditary syphilis, the Austrian ones did not. That is is the key.

No: the risk increase markedly over multiple generations. But then the relevant comparison is to the group of people who have been born of long lines of old-bag-bangers.

No, the risks rapidly escalate with multiple generations.

Any study of economics/incentives? Seem to recall Saudi allowance related to your blood ties to the royal family

It's interesting to play with the idea that had Arab cultures not marginally decreased their citizens' individual (biological) fitness, would they still have fallen from the great heights attained 1000 yrs ago?

What great heights? Civilisations had always existed in the areas where Arab armies conquered. Those civilisations began to notably decline shortly thereafter.

Islam is a looting machine and recipe for despotism that began to atrophy as soon as it ran out of victims.

That's a description of Empire.

I believe that for thousands of years, most human beings lived in small agricultural villages, and endogamy was the standard way of life. I am not saying that consanguineous marriages are good, but I bet that 17 year old Jan and 15 year old Marie had a lot of lineage in common living in a community of a few hundred people. I doubt that a peasant in China, India, the European plain travelled very far to find a consort.

It came to them, armed and on horseback, often enough to keep the pot well stirred.

Heheh. Oh, your gentle punning aphorisms so entertain us, Sir Barken! Pray; tell us once more about the gentle pastoralists of the Eurasian steppe!

Indeed! They too no doubt ate the occassional person or two

Ancient DNA has not found this so far in medieval, iron age, bronze age, neolithic samples. Even hunter gatherers tended to be fairly exogamous, though can be limited by small population sizes. Consang looks fairly new, except when motivated by really harsh bottlenecks from environmental forces.

I believe a reason for such marriages is that the practice of "dating" is so prohibited that the only members of the opposite sex one can meet are cousins. There is also strong clannishness, such that cousin marriages strengthen the clan. An interesting comparison is Iran, also muslim but much less restrictive. In the big cities cousin marriages are rare (based on my sample of hundreds of immigrants I know with virtually no cousin marriages).

"It's interesting to play with the idea that had Arab cultures not marginally decreased their citizens' individual (biological) fitness, would they still have fallen from the great heights attained 1000 yrs ago?"

Don't Arabs own the highest building in the world?

Well, they noticed that some homosexuals survived the lower buildings.

Plus, the only time Arabs were actually involved in Burj Khalifa's construction was cutting the ribbon.

And writing the checks!

apart from propinquity being a major driver for consanguineous marriage, also the importance of shari'a law should be considered as it relates to inheritance issues: keeping the valuables in the family.

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