The Churchesâ€™ Bans on Consanguineous Marriages, Kin-networks and Democracy
Jonathan Schulz ()
No 2016-16, Discussion Papers from The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham
This paper highlights the role of kin-networks for the functioning of modern societies: countries with strong extended families as characterized by a high level of cousin marriages exhibit a weak rule of law and are more likely autocratic. To assess causality, I exploit a quasi-natural experiment. In the early medieval ages the Church started to prohibit kin-marriages. Using the variation in the duration and extent of the Eastern and Western Churchesâ€™ bans on consanguineous marriages as instrumental variables, reveals highly significant point estimates of the percentage of cousin marriage on an index of democracy. An additional novel instrument, cousin-terms, strengthens this point: the estimates are very similar and do not rest on the European experience alone. Exploiting within country variation of cousin marriages in Italy, as well as within variation of a â€˜societal marriage pressureâ€™ indicator for a larger set of countries support these results. These findings point to a causal effect of marriage patterns on the proper functioning of formal institutions and democracy. The study further suggests that the Churchesâ€™ marriage rules - by destroying extended kin-groups - led Europe on its special path of institutional and democratic development.
Keywords: Democracy; Family; Kin-groups; Church; Cousin-Marriage; Consanguinity. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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