June 24, 2012

Cousin marriage v. democracy

From the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology:
Consanguinity as a Major Predictor of Levels of Democracy: A Study of 70 Nations 
Michael A. Woodley and Edward Bell 
Abstract 
This article examines the hypothesis that although the level of democracy in a society is a complex phenomenon involving many antecedents, consanguinity (marriage and subsequent mating between second cousins or closer relatives) is an important though often overlooked predictor of it. Measures of the two variables correlate substantially in a sample of 70 nations (r = –0.632, p < 0.001), and consanguinity remains a significant predictor of democracy in multiple regression and path analyses involving several additional independent variables. The data suggest that where consanguineous kinship networks are numerically predominant and have been made to share a common statehood, democracy is unlikely to develop. Possible explanations for these findings include the idea that restricted gene flow arising from consanguineous marriage facilitates a rigid collectivism that is inimical to individualism and the recognition of individual rights, which are key elements of the democratic ethos. Furthermore, high levels of within-group genetic similarity may discourage cooperation between different large-scale kin groupings sharing the same nation, inhibiting democracy. Finally, genetic similarity stemming from consanguinity may encourage resource predation by members of socially elite kinship networks as an inclusive fitness enhancing behavior.

A correlation of -0.6 is fairly strong in the social sciences. 

Stanley Kurtz, Randall Parker, HBD Chick, and myself have been saying roughly this for awhile.  Stephen Colbert's book I Am America (And You Can Too) touches upon cousin marriage.

It would be interesting to measure the effects of topography on the rates of cousin marriage. In the U.S., which has extremely low rates of cousin marriage and high degree of hostility to the very idea, it was notoriously most common among hillbillies. In general, there's been a lot to be said for living in broad river valleys, of which northern Europe has an abundance.

But even up in the hollers, consanguinity was much lower than in much of, say, the Middle East. And Iraq, the land between the rivers, has very high cousin marriage rates.

Here's a converse of this theory that cousin marriage undermines democracy off the top of my head. I don't have any evidence regarding it, but maybe somebody will do a solid study of it someday: a big war is followed by more than a few guys coming home and marrying an old war buddy's sister. And I suspect that the effect is the opposite of cousin marriage: it builds social capital by creating broader-based networks of in-laws. 

Unfortunately, I can't even think of any anecdotal evidence for either part of this hypothesis. But it sounds kind of right to me.

43 comments:

john marzan said...

but cousin marriage is acceptable in india too....

Steve Sailer said...

They have a fair amount of uncle-niece marriage in parts of India.

Anonymous said...

The problem is ARRANGED cousin marriage.

beowulf said...

"I don't have any evidence regarding it, but maybe somebody will do a solid study of it someday: a big war is followed by more than a few guys coming home and marrying an old war buddy's sister..."

And then there are vets who end up comforting their buddy's widow in a way not dissimilar to the Will Farrell character in The Wedding Crashers ("Damn you Roger!").
http://youtu.be/BWkqBRuwjeY

One of the most memorable stories in Studs Terkel's The Good War was about just this situation (well, in that case, he did marry her).
http://books.google.com/books?id=tg4KilgfNY4C&pg=PA270&lpg=PA270&dq

Anonymous said...

My grandmother's sister married her brother's war buddy after WW1.

Anonymous said...

On marrying your war buddies sister, you must be thinking of World War II. Is there any evidence that the veterans did marry their buddies sisters?

The US certainly did have a boom after World War II. And the 50s were a glorious time in retrospect. What went wrong in the 60s? Was it the civil rights movement? Perhaps that was inevitable.
Robert Hume

Anonymous said...

I think the USA or the west has been bold enough to experiment with Marriage; like no other Country, Many are following USA.

In India, Marriage has always been within Caste, within Economic band, and to add an extra filter Culture Band.

What is important that a better Culture prevail in a Marriage, the gambling point is quality of Culture that family adopts and passes onto the next generation.

It was accepted for a Male to marry a woman from lower caste, but not for a Woman to marry a Man of Lower Castes.

All implied there is a gradation of Culture amongst Castes and within Same Sub-Castes.

RKU said...

Hmm... Wouldn't a similar analysis in the 1950s or so have found a very high correlation between Protestant Christianity and democracy. Offhand, I'd think that with a few national exceptions here and there, the Protestants were democrats and the democrats were Protestants.

In any event, I'd suspect that these correlations depends very sharply upon whether they're population-weighted or not, and arguably they should be. If so, then India (which is mostly Hindu and has cousin-marriage) outweighs the combined total of all European and European-derived countries. So we'd get very little of a cousin-marriage correlation but an extremely strong one with Hinduism, which probably becomes the biggest factor behind democracy.

Similarly, Russia and Ukraine are democratic, they're both Orthodox, and they totally dominate the worth Orthodox population. So Orthodoxy becomes a very strong indicator of democracy. Obviously, being European-ancestry is an even bigger indicator.

Depending upon how you could Pakistan and Nigeria, being Muslim might be a strong negative indicator of democracy.

My guess is that the cousin-marriage factor may largely be a statistical artifact dependent upon these other correlations of race and religion.

Matthew said...

Gandhi got it on with his grand-niece.

Which proves the hypocrisy of the Left. They're happy to bash "conservative" figures like Joseph Smith for marrying 30-40 women, some as young as 14, but they'll excuse the grotesque behavior of their own, especially if their own happens to be non-white and/or non-Christian.

Iraq may have 50%+ cousin marriage, but we'll never hear about it as much as we hear about cousin marriage in the (white, conservative, Christian) South, where it is now all but non-existent.

WMarkW said...

Over-reliance on family relationships is an indicator of non-functioning societal framework. In countries with strong legal systems, contracts are enforced; in other countries, business relationships stay in families to provide the enforcement the legal system doesn't.

Cousin marriages indicate how little faith the families of prospective spouses have in the members of the rest of society.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever done a correlation study for democracy and spirograph?

W.LindsayWheeler said...

That to uphold and defend democracy is part of conservativism is absolutely bogus. The first intellectuals, the foundations of Western Thought is both Socrates and Plato and both were anti-democracy! Every single serious righteous intellectual has condemned democracy. Cicero didn't like democracy but promoted mixed government, the original set up of the Roman Republic. Every Catholic intellectual has hated democracy. Democracy is the worst form of government. Aristotle lists it as the bad form of the politiea/republic. The orthodox traditionalist Roman Catholic Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, a prof in political science, in his flagship book, Liberty or Equality writes of the intellectual history of anti-democracy. Hell, the FFofA hated democracy. So why is Steve Sailor anxious about upholding Democracy for?

Democracy is not according to the Natural Law nor to Heaven when the "Our Father" promotes the coming of His """Kingdom""" not of his """democracy""". Steve, ol boy, there is no democracy in heaven. So why are you trying to defend it for? Are you really an "intellectual"? or a boob?

Anonymous said...

A big part of the reason cousin marriage is so rare among descendants of Europeans is the strong proscription against such marriages imposed by the Roman Catholic Church. One useful working hypothesis for explaining the existence of such marriage patterns within some communities of European descent is that such marriages would be less proscribed and more useful in lawless areas where the Church was unable to exert control and where the protection afforded by familial alliances was to useful to forego. As has been pointed out elsewhere the Appalachian cultures of America endure among descendants of immigrants from the Scottisg-English border; precisely such a lawless region as might foster close-kin marriage.

Claude Levi-Strauss has a whole theory of how various patterns of cousin and cross-cousin marriage might facilitate or retard social integration in primitive societies. This has led to an enormous academic literature, e.g., the academic feud between George C. Homans and rodney Needham back in the 1960s.

Anonymous said...

Muslim Indians marry Fathers-brothers daughter

Dravidians, marry cross-cousin and sometimes sisters-daughter

Upper caste Hindus are banned from marrying anyone closer than 3rd cousin

pat said...

Recently Kevin Costner and his associates produced a mini series on consanguinity. It was called The Hatfields and McCoys.

As far as I can tell the series was accurate. The technique for achieving verisimilitude was for the men to all grow scruffy beard and sport bad haircuts. But they missed the most characteristic feature of the Appalachian peoples - rotten teeth.

Google "consanguinity dental".

I was in Basic Training at Fort Knox in Kentucky. You could always tell the hillbillies when they smiled. Cousin marriages are common up in the hills so you get a lot of homozygous recessives. This is expressed in bad teeth but also in bad brains.

Google "consanguinity IQ".

It takes some smarts to achieve and sustain democracy. Maybe low IQ is enough to explain the results.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Off topic:

http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/white-working-chaos/?hp

Note anti-White hate speech that follows in comments

Anonymous said...

"And Iraq, the land between the rivers"

Hey, wait a minute. I thought the State of Wei (i.e., early northern China) was the "land between the rivers".

Is there some historian who can like issue trademarks or something?

Anonymous said...

William II of Orange married his cousin and it was bad for democracy in the three Kingdoms.

Geoff Matthews said...

When I was in grad school, my demography class looked at consaguinity and infant mortality, and there was a positive relationship.
But there have been a few studies countering this claim in the news lately. And it seems that the multi-culti forces are trying to defend the practice.

I was watching a movie with my son the other day, and one character clearly had romantic interests in his second cousin. From a personal view, I don't have a problem with that, but my son thought it was gross. So I don't have any worries about it in my family tree.

Anonymous said...

"Here's a converse of this theory that cousin marriage undermines democracy off the top of my head. " - Perhaps it is not cousin marriage, but long periods of Consanguinity that lead to the bad stuff. Of course the areas that have it banned have banned it for over a millenium. Then there is type and quality, with the brand of cousin marriage the arabs practice being the worst,Fathers Brothers daughter as per hbdchick.

Anonymous said...

I suspect high rates of cousin marriage in Appalachia had more to do with militarized "Borderer" culture of the Anglo-Scottish borders, which was transplanted to Kentucky and the rest of the mountain country- close-knit clans tended to associate only within themselves (suggesting a chicken-and-egg dynamic to the whole low trust/cousin marriage issue). Yankee New England has plenty of rugged mountain country (take a drive through Vermont or New Hampshire sometime), but never seems to have developed any reputation for inbreeding.

crawfurdmuir said...

"...it was notoriously most common among hillbillies."

Like Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt?

jody said...

"A correlation of -0.6 is fairly strong in the social sciences."

not in psychology. the minimum requirement for "we found something" in modern research psychology experiments is n = 20, p < 0.05, and r = 0.9. obviously as n increases the results strengthen. similar rules are in use for particle physics in supercollider experiments, although i'm not a physicist and don't understand them well.

-0.6 is not bad, and indicates "there might be something there". it could be worth checking out more. but it's not an "A ha!" moment.

Whiskey said...

I think you are exactly right Steve. India particularly in the North and South, has very rugged terrain, with more than 100 languages spoken.

OT: the Supremes gutted AB1070, killing criminal penalties for working as an illegal, and requiring immigrants to carry registration papers. Homeland Security says they will refuse to take any calls about illegals in AZ.

Essentially, the rule of law in the US is dead. And tragically, most people in the US like that state.

Back on topic, I would like to see democracy or more accurately political power held at more accountable and lower levels as a function of female liberation, and freedom. My gut tells me that just as cousin marriage is hostile to democracy, and Steve's notion of old war buddies marrying the other's sister promotes it, that enhanced female power leads to EU type pseudo-technocratic oligarchy, a "modern" set of princesses and princes, more social rigidity (something women generally like), decreased upward mobility, and idealization of non-Whites (Obama, Oprah). But I would like to see data on this, within Western Europe and North America.

Anonymous said...

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/06/facebook-swapped-your-e-mail-address.html?mid=facebook_nymag

What do Zuckerberg and Cass Sunstein have in common? They gradually NUDGE us their way.
The nudgocratic state.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Steve:

"Stanley Kurtz, Randall Parker, HBD Chick, and myself have been saying roughly this for awhile."

"Myself have/has been saying roughly this for awhile"?

A writer of your caliber should know it's "I," nominative case.

You don't use the reflexive "myself" in that way. "I gave myself a treat," or "I myself completed the task that had been assigned to him."

Ex Submarine Officer said...

cousin marriage was very popular in Japan but then receded over the past 50-60 years.

How does this match all the patterns proposed here.

Lots of the older folks do have bad teeth.

Maybe the imposition of democracy following WWII caused consanguinity to decline, as the lawfulness became more rationalized?

Anonymous said...

I believe cousin marriage -first cousin- is very common in the Arab world and in Pakistan. I have long privately wondered if this may be part of the reason why these places are so screwed up???

Anonymous said...

Jody, I generally like your comments but you are way off base in your comment @ 11:59

A correlation as high as .9 is almost impossible to find in the social sciences. An r of .9 would automatically be treated with suspicion.

Anonymous said...

"What went wrong in the 60s?"

TV. Well, it spread in the 50s, but the effect had to gather steam. A whole generation had to have grown up that knew nothing but TV. That only appeared by the 60s. The TV age featured the greatest centralization of thought in history. Think how much easier it was for a crank, a dissenter to set up a printing press in the past than it was for anyone to start a TV network in TV's golden age. When people started getting most of their info from TV, the diversity of opinion decreased. Only elite opinion could get through loud and clear. The elite opinion was leftist.

Anonymous said...

"Essentially, the rule of law in the US is dead. And tragically, most people in the US like that state."

Yes, and I'd like to ask why it is that millions of us, myself included, haven't poured into the streets protesting.

Why is that, Steve? Is a parasite manipulating us?

Anonymous said...

Lots of the older [Japanese] folks do have bad teeth.

Lots of the younger ones do, too, especially the girls. They'll spend thousands of dollars on designer handbags and not a penny on their teeth. Strange country, Japan.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 5:06

No, it's because a large portion of current law is not worth defending. In large part, because many laws are obviously written to restrict franchise and promote the welfare of select parties - without clear explanation to those who must sacrifice. Thus many people have lost faith in the rule.

SFG said...

"Democracy is not according to the Natural Law nor to Heaven when the "Our Father" promotes the coming of His """Kingdom""" not of his """democracy""". Steve, ol boy, there is no democracy in heaven. So why are you trying to defend it for? Are you really an "intellectual"? or a boob?"

Yeah, but he's American, and it's as American as apple pie. What the European right would like to do is their own business. ;)

Svigor said...

Yeah, but he's American, and it's as American as apple pie. What the European right would like to do is their own business. ;)

Democracy, on the other hand, is not as American as apple pie.

jody said...

"Jody, I generally like your comments but you are way off base in your comment @ 11:59

A correlation as high as .9 is almost impossible to find in the social sciences. An r of .9 would automatically be treated with suspicion."

except i didn't say the social sciences. i specifically said modern research psychology. despite many people who don't know what they're talking about spouting off about psychology, academic lab psychology today is rather rigorous and fairly decent at developing theories of animal behavior which are predictive and testable. a correlation of 0.9 is the standard i was held to when doing experimental design for my thesis when getting my degree in robotics. studying how humans solve problems of perception, action, problem solving, and computation, bear heavily on getting machines to do the same things.

when you're testing something like frontal lobe volume in cubic centimeters versus nerve conduction reaction time, or checking optic nerve response to blue light stimulus versus green light stimulus, you get experimental results with a much higher degree of reliability and validity, than you would in an experimental design where the hypothesis is that having an alcoholic for a father reduces lifetime earnings by 25%, or whatever it is that sociologists choose to study. in this case, the hypothesis being "Does humping your cousins prevent you from writing a constitution establishing a republic form of government."

perhaps the standard of 0.6, which is LOW, is the reason social science in general correctly predicts so few things. but i can say the science being done in serious lab psychology, where the transition is on to shift the entire field from a social science to the most rigorous form of physical science, the standard was much higher than 0.6. once researchers shift away from, for instance, crudely trying to estimate brain function by giving people a pencil and paper test, to simply peering into their brain with modern diagnostic tools, and measuring the volume, electrical activity, blood flow, myelination, and various physical properties and processes in their brain, you're going to see more definitive statements like "We can tell if somebody is gonna be good at math because areas x, y, and z in the brain correlate at almost a positive 0.9 relationship with math ability."

certainly this is no deliberate put down of economics, because i think what economists are trying to do is a lot more difficult than what psychologists do in 2012. a psychology professor can look at, touch, and diagnose a brain that is disintigrating from schizophrenia, design chemical treatments, test them, then evaluate how effective they were across hundreds of brains by looking at the brains again. did the brains stop losing neurons or not?

but how do you predict what will happen at the macroeconomic level in an economy with 1 billion people? it is no different than meteorology. there are SO many variables. there is just no good way to predict specific events, and only general trends are within the scope of human explanation. predicting the economy is like predicting the weather.

Anonymous said...

pat said... Cousin marriages are common up in the hills ... This is expressed in bad teeth .

Ex Submarine Officer said... cousin marriage was very popular in Japan...Lots of the older folks do have bad teeth.

The Heritability of Malocclusion
"population groups that are genetically homogeneous tend to have normal occlusion.
[...]
Melanesians of the Philippine islands, malocclusion is almost non-existent.
[...]
in heterogeneous populations, the incidence of jaw discrepancies and occlusal disharmonies is significantly greater.
[...]
individual features of the craniofacial complex could be inherited [...] independently [...] jaw size and tooth size could be inherited independently

hbd chick said...

@steve - "...a big war is followed by more than a few guys coming home and marrying an old war buddy's sister."

fwiw, cousin marriage rates went up in italy after both wwi and wwii -- increased to rates higher than pre-war days in both cases.

but italy (esp. southern italy) has had a long history of cousin marriage. things might've played out differently in the u.s. or england.

hbd chick said...

@anonymous - "The problem is ARRANGED cousin marriage."

no, the problem is too much cousin marriage.

well, it's only a problem if you want liberal democracy and neighbors trusting each other, etc., etc. otherwise it doesn't really matter.

hbd chick said...

@anonymous - "A big part of the reason cousin marriage is so rare among descendants of Europeans is the strong proscription against such marriages imposed by the Roman Catholic Church. One useful working hypothesis for explaining the existence of such marriage patterns within some communities of European descent is that such marriages would be less proscribed and more useful in lawless areas where the Church was unable to exert control and where the protection afforded by familial alliances was to useful to forego."

you're right about the role of the roman catholic church (the eastern orthodox churches took a stab at banning cousin marriage, too, btw), but the odd thing is that the rc church didn't manage to get rid of cousin marriage in italy until the 1960s -- and even then they didn't manage so well in southern italy. you think if the rc church would be able to exert some control anywhere it would've been in italy.

hbd chick said...

@anonymous - "I suspect high rates of cousin marriage in Appalachia had more to do with militarized 'Borderer' culture of the Anglo-Scottish borders, which was transplanted to Kentucky and the rest of the mountain country...."

yup!

Anonymous said...

"-0.6 is not bad, and indicates "there might be something there". it could be worth checking out more. but it's not an "A ha!" moment."

Bear in mind this correlation isn't between consanquinity and democracy it's a correlation between democracy and the *current* rate of cousin marriage as a reasonable proxy of consanquinity whereas actual consanquinity would include earlier generations also.

Country A
50% of grandparents were cousins
50% of parents were cousins
50% of current marriages are cousins

Country B
50% of grandparents were cousins
50% of parents were cousins
25% of current marriages are cousins

Taking just current marriages you might expect the ratio of whatever you're trying to measure to be 2:1 but if you averaged the last three generations you would expect the ratio to be 1.25:1

If it was possible to get the data over multiple generations or data based on the result of various levels of consanquinous marriage (runs of homozygozity?) then the correlation could be a lot stronger.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...(runs of homozygozity?)

runs of homozygosity


runs of homozygosity