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The observation that wealthy nations have low consanguinity rates does not mean that economic development in poorer nations has reduced the level of marriages within kin groups.In some regions, increases in wealth levels have been related to concurrent increases in the consanguinity rate.The relationship between economic development and consanguineous marriage is a complex one.The wealthy nations of the world have very low rates of marriage between close relations -- generally at or less than 1% of all marriages.While the practice of marrying your siblings is now archaic (not to mention extremely icky), is it legal to wed a close relative such as a first cousin?When I was a young girl living in Hong Kong, my parents told me that I was allowed to marry my first cousin so long as they don't share the same surname.But even within those nations, some sub-populations continue to have high rates consanguineous marriage.For example, at 33% of all marriages the Mennonite community in Kansas has a consanguinity rate much higher than many poor nations.

Now you might be under the impression that marriage to a first cousin may be akin to gene pool genocide given that any child produced from the union would be prone to birth defects.I believe this because if my children did this I would have a very physical response.Having said that, there are millions of people in the world today that are married to a close blood relation.But a large-scale study done by UK researchers in 2013 showed that while babies born to couples that are related increases the rate of babies born with health problems, the chances are smaller than people would think.The risk of defects is about the same as women having babies when they're over 34, according to the study.

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