Altruism, Cooperation, and Efficiency: Agricultural Production in Polygynous Households

48 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2012

See all articles by Richard Akresh

Richard Akresh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Joyce J. Chen

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics

Charity Maria Troyer Moore

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Abstract

Altruism among family members can, in some cases, inhibit cooperation by increasing the utility that players expect to receive in a non-cooperative equilibrium. To test this, we examine agricultural productivity in polygynous households in West Africa. We find that cooperation is greater – production is more efficient – among co-wives than among husbands and wives because co-wives are less altruistic towards each other. The results are not driven by scale effects or self-selection into polygyny. Nor can they be explained by greater propensity for cooperation among women generally or by the household head acting as an enforcement mechanism for others' cooperative agreements.

Keywords: altruism, non-cooperative behavior, household bargaining, polygyny, Africa

JEL Classification: D13, D70, J12, O13, O55

Suggested Citation

Akresh, Richard and Chen, Joyce J. and Moore, Charity Maria Troyer, Altruism, Cooperation, and Efficiency: Agricultural Production in Polygynous Households. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6265, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1981221

Richard Akresh (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Joyce J. Chen

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics ( email )

2120 Fyffe Rd
Columbus, OH 43210-1067
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.aede.osu.edu/people/chen.1276

Charity Maria Troyer Moore

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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