Has the Long-Predicted Decline in Consanguineous Marriage Occurred? An Indian Perspective on a Global Question: Empirical Evidence Gathered From National Family Health Surveys of India

Nutan Kumari
Alan H. Bittles, Murdoch University
Prem C. Saxena, Shri Jagdishprasad Jhabrmal Tibrewala University

Consanguineous marriages are conventionally defined as unions between couples related as second cousins or closer. The NFHS- 1 and 4 data were used for the study. The primary aim of study was to determine whether there was evidence to support the long-predicted overall decline in consanguinity in India, regional and state levels. The results were both interesting and occasionally unexpected. The four southern states, which traditionally have recorded the highest rates of consanguineous marriages, revealed a substantial decline in consanguinity prevalence. Conversely, there was a small but significant increase in consanguineous marriage in some central, northern and north-eastern states, which in NFHS-1 had reported low rates of consanguinity. Bivariate and multivariate methods were used for the study. The variables tested include ‘residence’, ‘education of woman’, ‘age at marriage of woman’, and ‘religion’. The findings reflect lifestyle changes within the last generation, including urbanization and improved female educational and employment opportunities.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity