How marrying your cousin corrupts society

Nov 5, 2019 by

by Mary Harrigton, UnHerd:

A paper in October’s Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization reports a strong correlation across societies between frequency of ‘in-marriage’ — that is, cousin marriage — and corruption in that society.

The paper argues that cousin marriage “generates fractionalization because it yields relatively closed groups of related individuals and thereby encourages favoritism and corruption.” That is, cousin marriage incentivises corruption because loyalty is more likely to be to a large, interconnected network of blood relations than to any more abstract conception of society.

By contrast:

Out-marriage creates a relatively open society with increased interaction between non-relatives and strangers, thereby encouraging impartiality.
– Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization

The study reports “a robust association between in-marriage practices and corruption both across countries and within countries”.

It also looked at the Catholic Church’s family policies, and concluded that Catholicism could have a causal relationship with greater prevalence of out-marriage.

Read here


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