The Mystery of Monogamy

Posted: 29 Apr 2008

See all articles by Eric D. Gould

Eric D. Gould

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Omer Moav

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Avi Simhon

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Abstract

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, O40

Suggested Citation

Gould, Eric D. and Moav, Omer and Simhon, Avi, The Mystery of Monogamy. American Economic Review, Vol. 98, No. 1, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1125662

Eric D. Gould (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3247 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: https://sites.google.com/site/edgould

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Omer Moav

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/academic/moav

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Avi Simhon

Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem 91905, IL Jerusalem 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3237 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

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