First cousin marriages and fertility behaviour in Egypt, Turkey, and Yemen

Rania Tfaily, University of Pennsylvania

Research on first cousin marriages is limited in demography even though the practice is prevalent in many countries. The majority of studies treats consanguineous marriages as one group and fails to distinguish between its different types. In addition, the literature focuses mostly on framing consanguineous marriages as a problem. I argue against restricting the study of first cousin marriages into its genetics component. The paper examines the trend in first cousin marriages differentiating between matrilateral and patrilateral first cousins. The paper also looks at the association between women’s biological relationship to their husbands and the characteristics of their marriage. I propose that first cousin marriages differ from marriages to non-relatives in at least two important characteristics: they are more stable but less intimate. The findings are based on Demographic and Health Survey data from Egypt (1995, 2000, 2003), Jordan (1990, 1997, 2002), Turkey (1993, 1998), and Yemen (1991/1992, 1997).

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Presented in Session 35: Cultural norms and demographic behaviour in developing countries (2)