Journal of Biosocial Science 30 (2):261-275 (1998)

Consanguineous marriages are strongly preferred in much of West and South Asia. This paper examines the prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of consanguineous unions in Pakistan using local and national data. Information from 1011 ever-married women living in four multi-ethnic and multi-lingual squatter settlements of Karachi, the main commercial centre of the country, are compared with data from the national 1990/91 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS), based on information provided by 6611 women. Both sets of results indicate that approximately 60% of marriages were consanguineous, over 80% of which were between first cousins. The mean coefficients of inbreeding (F) in the present generation were 0·0316 and 0·0331 for the Karachi and PDHS data respectively. In both surveys the prevalence of consanguineous unions appeared to be unchanged over the past three to four decades. Consanguineous unions were more common among women who were illiterate or had only primary level education, were first or second generation migrants from rural areas of Pakistan or, in the PDHS, lived in rural areas, and whose parents were also consanguineously married
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DOI 10.1017/s0021932098002612
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