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The writings of Scottish deputy commissioner for lunacy Arthur Mitchell claiming that cousin marriage had injurious effects on offspring were largely contradicted by researchers such as Alan Huth and George Darwin.In fact, Mitchell's own data did not support his hypotheses and he later speculated that the dangers of consanguinity might be partly overcome by proper living.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).Though contemporaneous, the eugenics movement did not play much of a direct role in the bans.George Louis Arner in 1908 considered the ban a clumsy and ineffective method of eugenics, which he thought would eventually be replaced by more refined techniques. Since that time, Kentucky (1943) and Texas have banned first-cousin marriage and since 1985, Maine has mandated genetic counseling for marrying cousins to minimise risk to any of serious health defect to their children.

Various religions have ranged from prohibiting sixth cousins or closer from marrying, to freely allowing first-cousin marriage.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.Professors Brent Shaw and Richard Saller, however, counter in their more comprehensive treatment that cousin marriages were never habitual or preferred in the western empire: for example, in one set of six stemmata (genealogies) of Roman aristocrats in the two centuries after Octavian, out of 33 marriages, none was between first or second cousins.Cousin marriage is an important topic in anthropology and alliance theory.Children of first-cousin marriages may have an increased risk of genetic disorders, particularly if their parents both carry a harmful recessive mutation, but this can only be estimated empirically, and those estimates are likely to be specific to particular populations in specific environments.

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