The Lion’s Share: An Experimental Analysis of Polygamy in Northern Nigeria

35 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2011 Last revised: 2 May 2011

See all articles by Alistair Munro

Alistair Munro

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); University of London, Royal Holloway College - Department of Economics

Bereket Kebede

University of East Anglia - School of International Development and CBESS

Marcela Tarazona-Gómez

University of Toulouse 1

Arjan Verschoor

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Date Written: April 24, 2011

Abstract

Using samples of polygamous and non-polygamous households from villages in rural areas south of Kano,Northern Nigeria we test basic theories of household behaviour. Husbands and wives play two variants of a voluntary contributions game in which endowments are private knowledge, but contributions are public. In one variant, the common pool is split equally. In the other treatment the husband allocates the pool (and wives are forewarned of this). Most partners keep back at least half of their endowment from the common pool, but we find no evidence that polygynous households are less efficient than their monogamous counterparts. We also reject a strong form of Bergstrom’s model of polygyny in which all wives receive an equal allocation. In our case, senior wives often receive more from their husbands, no matter what their contribution. Thus the return to contributions is higher for senior wives compared to their junior counterparts. When they control the allocation, polygynous men receive a higher payoff than their monogamous counterparts. We speculate on the implications of this pattern of investment and reward for the sustainability of polygynous institutions.

Keywords: Polygyny, Polygamy, Experiment, Household, Nigeria

JEL Classification: D13, C93, D03

Suggested Citation

Munro, Alistair and Kebede, Bereket and Tarazona-Gómez, Marcela and Verschoor, Arjan, The Lion’s Share: An Experimental Analysis of Polygamy in Northern Nigeria (April 24, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1821283 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1821283

Alistair Munro (Contact Author)

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) ( email )

Tokyo
Japan

HOME PAGE: http://www.grips.ac.jp/

University of London, Royal Holloway College - Department of Economics ( email )

Royal Holloway College
Egham
Surrey, Surrey TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

Bereket Kebede

University of East Anglia - School of International Development and CBESS ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/view/bereket-kebede/

Marcela Tarazona-Gómez

University of Toulouse 1 ( email )

Place Anatole France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

Arjan Verschoor

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

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