The Mystery of Monogamy
Eric D. Gould
Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
American Economic Review, Vol. 98, No. 1, 2008
We examine why developed countries are monogamous while rich men throughout history have typically practiced polygyny. Wealth inequality naturally produces multiple wives for rich men in a standard model of the marriage market. However, we demonstrate that higher female inequality in the marriage market reduces polygyny. Moreover, we show that female inequality increases in the process of development as women are valued more for the quality of their children versus their quantity. Consequently, male inequality generates inequality in the number of wives per man in traditional societies, but manifests itself as inequality in the quality of wives in developed societies.
JEL Classification: J12, J24, O10, O40Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 29, 2008
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