Human Nature

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 45–64 | Cite as

Inbreeding in Southeastern Spain

The Impact of Geography and Demography on Marital Mobility and Marital Distance Patterns (1900–1969)
  • R. CalderónEmail author
  • C. L. Hernández
  • G. García-Varela
  • D. Masciarelli
  • P. Cuesta


In this paper, the structure of a southeastern Spanish population was studied for the first time with respect to its inbreeding patterns and its relationship with demographic and geographic factors. Data on consanguineous marriages (up to second cousins) from 1900 to 1969 were taken from ecclesiastic dispensations. Our results confirm that the patterns and trends of inbreeding in the study area are consistent with those previously observed in most non-Cantabrian Spanish populations. The rate of consanguineous marriages was apparently stable between 1900 and 1935 and then sharply decreased since 1940, which coincides with industrialization in Spain. A marked departure from Hardy-Weinberg expectations (0.25) in the ratio of first cousin (M22) to second cousin (M33) marriages in the study population (0.88) was observed. The high levels of endogamy (>80%) and its significant steadiness throughout the twentieth century is noteworthy. Accordingly, our results show that exogamous marriages were not only poorly represented but also that this reduced mobility (<6 km) suggests that the choice of a mate was preferentially local. We found higher mobility in M22 with respect to M33 cousin mating. The relationships between population size and consanguinity rates and inbreeding fit power-law distributions. A significant positive correlation was observed between inbreeding and elevation. Many Spanish populations have experienced a prolonged and considerable isolation across generations, which has led to high proportions of historical and local endogamy that is associated, in general, with high \( \overline{F} \) values. Thus, assessing genomic inbreeding using runs of homozygosity (ROH) in current Spanish populations could be an additional pertinent strategy for obtaining a more refined perspective regarding the population history inferred from the extent and frequency of ROH regions.


Consanguinity Endogamy Iberian Peninsula Mating patterns Population genetic structure Public health 



This study was partially supported by a Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivity grant (Research Project, CGL2014-53985-R) to R. Calderón as Principal Investigator.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Calderón
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. L. Hernández
    • 1
  • G. García-Varela
    • 1
  • D. Masciarelli
    • 1
  • P. Cuesta
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain
  2. 2.Centro de Proceso de DatosUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain

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