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Marrying someone from another race: So What? 

Anthony Hilton

February 17, 2008

Racial intermarriage, or “miscegenation”, raises an important question which, even only recently, seemed to have the following answer:

First, too close inbreeding can be disastrous health-wise for offspring, due to the possible inheritance and pairing of identical, unhealthy, recessive alleles (genes) at the same spot on a chromosome, one from each parent. But it has been unclear how much out-breeding was necessary and/or desirable. Marrying at least beyond lst or 2nd cousins seemed essential for avoiding the above “inbreeding depression”, but was there such a thing as too much out-breeding? The answer was yes for the case of breeding between species, e.g., horses + donkeys producing sterile mules. But what about breeding outside one’s ethny or race? The only problems there seemed to be the likelihood of intercultural incompatibilities, the removal of family wealth and land to beyond the extended family and ethny, and, in the extreme, the destruction of human diversity through homogenization. On the other hand, people such as presidential candidate Barack Obama, actress Halle Berry, or Canada’s Governor General Michaëlle Jean have seemed illustrative of certain benefits of race mixing, and of hypergamy (marrying up) — and possibly smarter children for a disadvantaged race.

This month the journal Science (yes, the great one) published what, from the multi-cultural/racial viewpoint, can only be described as a bombshell.

It is a paper on 160,811 Icelandic marriages over several centuries, by Agnar Helgason et al, showing that in biological terms, marrying either closer to or out beyond the optimum 3rd or 4th cousin reduces the number children per family and the number of grandchildren.  Both number of children and the life span of the children are reduced when couples are 2nd cousins or closer. The authors do not rule out 100% the possibility of some unknown “socioeconomic” factor in all this, but social class was definitely not it. Since they found a statistically significant difference between marriages at the levels of 6th and 7th cousins, biological factors (of which such spouses would not likely be conscious) seem most probable.

So what? 

The only practical implication drawn by these Icelandic authors is that because of urbanization (and presumably multi-cultural diversity, as well, outside Iceland) there is a relative increase in distantly related couples today, and this should slow population growth.

We might add another: If any parent or grandparent out there wishes to see the continued survival of his/her family or ethny, especially during the present period of below replacement level fertility for Euro-ethnies, they ought to encourage their children to marry not too far afield in terms of kinship. Marrying a 3rd or 4th cousin would be ideal, and for heavens sake avoid other races — or even ethnies unless, like many European ethnies, they are not very distant kinship-wise.

Perhaps of equal importance, this paper has legitimized the preference for ethnic and racial similarity in marital choice, which still is sometimes openly expressed in newspaper ads by people looking to meet potential mates, and which can be achieved indirectly by the increasing residential segregation in the US.

The paper helps to de-legitimize the effort of Hollywood and its celebrities in promoting inter-racial breeding.

Here, arguably for the first time, is a scientifically supported biological basis for the supposedly “racist” objection to one’s daughter marrying “one.”

Anthony Hilton is Associate Professor of Psychology (Ret.) at Concordia University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

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