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people with common grandparents or people who share other fairly recent ancestors).Opinions and practice vary widely across the world.
This led to a gradual shift in concern from affinal unions, like those between a man and his deceased wife's sister, to consanguineous unions.In the past, cousin marriage was practised within indigenous cultures in Australia, North America, South America, and Polynesia.Various religions have ranged from prohibiting sixth cousins or closer from marrying, to freely allowing first-cousin marriage.Cousin marriage has often been chosen to keep cultural values intact, preserve family wealth, maintain geographic proximity, keep tradition, strengthen family ties, and maintain family structure or a closer relationship between the wife and her in-laws.Many such marriages are arranged (see also pages on arranged marriage in the Indian subcontinent, arranged marriages in Pakistan, and arranged marriages in Japan).When a question about cousin marriage was eventually considered in 1871 for the census, according to George Darwin, it was rejected on the grounds that the idle curiosity of philosophers was not to be satisfied.
Cousin and sibling marriage were legal in ancient Rome from the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), until it was banned by the Christian emperor Theodosius I in 381 in the West, and until after the death of Justinian (565) in the East, but the proportion of such marriages is not clear.
In some countries outside that region, it is uncommon but still legal.
In others, it is seen as incestuous and is legally prohibited: it is banned in China and Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines and 24 of the 50 United States.
Later studies by George Darwin found results that resemble those estimated today.
His father, Charles Darwin, who did marry his first cousin, had initially speculated that cousin marriage might pose serious risks, but perhaps in response to his son's work, these thoughts were omitted from a later version of the book they published.
Anthropologist Jack Goody said that cousin marriage was a typical pattern in Rome, based on the marriage of four children of Emperor Constantine to their first cousins and on writings by Plutarch and Livy indicating the proscription of cousin marriage in the early Republic.