Kin and Non-Kin Marriages and Family Structure in A Rich Tribal Society

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Human consanguinity is often attributed to poverty, lack of education and social insecurity. Nevertheless, kin unions continue to be arranged in socioeconomically transformed societies. This study examined the structure of families and marriages in the rich tribal society of the United Arab Emirates, which has had a high gross domestic product for the last two generations and currently has one of the highest in the world. The respondents were 217 national medical students whose families are proportionally distributed to the population of the country emirates. The rate of parental consanguinity (defined as a union of any two cousins) was 36%. The social status and mean size of consanguineous and non-consanguineous families were not significantly different. In non-consanguineous families, polygamy was more common and the number of half-siblings per family was higher. The extended families were on average 7% larger among non-consanguineous families. In contrast, for the extended families of the participants' grandparents, non-consanguineous families were smaller than their consanguineous counterparts. Participants from consanguineous families indicated that marriage of either a son or daughter was more difficult to arrange than did participants from non-consanguineous families. Though consanguineous parents had their offspring marry consanguineously more often than non-consanguineous parents, the numbers of married offspring in the two groups of families were not different. Consanguineous parents have more difficulty than non-consanguineous parents in finding spouses for themselves and for their offspring, and they arranged kin marriages for their children more often.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-805
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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