Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
- Feb 14, 2004
Among many intriguing insights, the family tree shines a light on shifting patterns of marriage and migration over time. For example, before 1750, most Americans found a spouse within six miles of their birthplace. However, after 1950 this distance had increased to around 60 miles, the researchers said.
In addition, before 1850, marrying a relatively close family member was common—on average people wedded their fourth cousin. Previously, it was thought that people in the West stopped marrying their close relatives due to the impact of improved transport networks, which caused people to be born further away from their extended families.
However, the data showed that for a 50-year period between 1800 and 1850, people travelled further than ever before to find a spouse—around 12 miles on average—yet were more likely to marry a fourth cousin.
In light of this, the researchers suggest that people stopped marrying their fourth cousins not due to increased mobility between different regions, but because the practice became less socially acceptable.