An association between the kinship and fertility of human couples

Science. 2008 Feb 8;319(5864):813-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1150232.


Previous studies have reported that related human couples tend to produce more children than unrelated couples but have been unable to determine whether this difference is biological or stems from socioeconomic variables. Our results, drawn from all known couples of the Icelandic population born between 1800 and 1965, show a significant positive association between kinship and fertility, with the greatest reproductive success observed for couples related at the level of third and fourth cousins. Owing to the relative socioeconomic homogeneity of Icelanders, and the observation of highly significant differences in the fertility of couples separated by very fine intervals of kinship, we conclude that this association is likely to have a biological basis.

MeSH terms

  • Consanguinity
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Humans
  • Iceland
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors