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The determinants of consanguineous marriage in Egypt, 1988-2000

Alexander Weinreb, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This article reviews three mechanisms related to autonomy, wealth, and local cultural factors, which are said to underly the high prevalence of consanguineous marriage in Arab societies. In the main analysis, it then assesses each of them empirically, pooling the most recent marriage cohorts in the 1992 and 2000 waves of the Egyptian Demographic and Health Surveys. Two results stand out. First, there is considerable temporal and rural-urban heterogeneity in the type of women drawn to consanguineous marriage on all three dimensions of interest, suggesting that the moderate declines in consanguinity are engaging different types of women. Second, there are powerful within-community correlations in marital practice, implying strong clustering of underlying institutional (and unobserved) supports for consanguinity. A secondary analysis then identifies the relative characteristics of 1st cousin patrilateral and matrilateral wives, finding significant differences between them on wealth, autonomy, and spousal age difference.

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Presented in Session 51: Cohabitation,marriage and remmarriage patterns