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Various religions have ranged from prohibiting up to sixth cousins from marrying, to freely allowing first cousin marriage.
Cousin marriage is an important topic in anthropology and alliance theory.
Opinions vary widely as to the merits of the practice.
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.
In some periods in Chinese history, all cousin marriage was legally prohibited, as law codes dating from the Ming Dynasty attest.
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Though the practice was common in earlier times, and continues to be common in some societies today, such marriages are prohibited in some jurisdictions.
In some cultures and communities, cousin marriages are considered ideal and actively encouraged; in others, they are subject to social stigma.
In some countries, the practice is common, while in others it is uncommon though legal.
In some societies, it is seen as incestuous and is legally prohibited, for example in China and Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines and 24 of the 50 United States.
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Children of more distantly related cousins have less risk of genetic disorders.