Education & Health

Causes and Consequences of Consanguineous Marriage in Pakistan

Project members:
Theresa Chaudhry,Lahore School of Economics 
Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale University

Interviews of just over 1000 households were conducted in 70 randomly selected sampling clusters from nine (out of Punjab’s 35 districts). A total of 4643 pregnancies were reported by 391 first cousin (37.6% of the marriages) and 622 non consanguineous couples interviewed in the study.

Major objectives of the study: to more accurately measure the effects of consanguineous marriage, both negative and positive. On the negative side, the offspring of consanguineous marriages may be at greater risk of disease and infant and childhood death. The survey looks at the childhood morbidity and mortality of children born out of consanguineous and non-consanguineous marriages. On the positive side, there may be greater altruism toward the children of consanguineous unions through the extended family, because there is a greater genetic tie. In addition, given that consanguineous marriage reduces uncertainty about unobserved spousal characteristics, this may provide parents with a greater incentive to “invest” in their children, such as by educating daughters. Finally, are there other socioeconomic benefits of consanguineous marriage? Such as reducing dowry? Increasing empowerment of women? Decreasing violence toward women? The analysis will take an instrumental variables approach, to account for the possible endogeneity of cousin marriage. (Published in Journal of Biosocial Science: