Growth of consanguineous populations: Effect of family and group size

Srdjan Denic, Mukesh M. Agarwal, Nico Nagelkerke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Although inbreeding is detrimental to the offspring, consanguineous marriages still remain very common in many countries. To better understand this sociobiological puzzle, we compared the growth of isolated consanguineous versus non-consanguineous populations of varying sizes. Methods: In a computer, over five generations, we simulated first cousin marriages, family size, and offspring survival to find the effect on population growth. Results: In large groups, the practice of first cousin marriages decreased the population size due to an excessive number of deaths among the offspring. In small groups, however, first cousin marriages increased the population size; without first cousins, there is a relative shortage of marriageable potential spouses. Marriages to first cousins produced additional unions and a surplus of viable offspring despite excessive deaths caused by inbreeding. Consequently, small consanguineously marrying groups grew faster than small non-consanguineously marrying groups. Independently, family size directly affected the number of consanguineous marriages and inbreeding in consanguineous groups. Conclusions: In small groups, kin marriages, despite the harms of inbreeding, result in relatively faster population growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S227-S232
JournalAsian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Computer simulation
  • Cooperation
  • Mate selection
  • Parental investment
  • Relative fitness
  • Sociobiology
  • Tribalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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