Cooperation in Polygynous Households

58 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2017

See all articles by Abigail Barr

Abigail Barr

University of Nottingham

Marleen Dekker

Leiden University - African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL)

Wendy Janssens

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Development Economics

Bereket Kebede

University of East Anglia - School of International Development and CBESS

Berber Kramer

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Date Written: March 24, 2017

Abstract

Evidence that monogamous spouses often compromise household gains to maintain individual control over resources has informed the design of cash transfer schemes and other poverty alleviation programs. In polygynous households, decision making may be even less cooperative as co-wife conflict is common and welfare outcomes are often worse than in monogamous households, despite polygyny being associated with better ex ante prospects. Using a carefully designed series of two-person public goods games, we conduct a quantitative, ceteris paribus comparison of willingness to cooperate to maximize household gains across the two household types. We find that polygynous spouses and co-wives are less cooperative, one with another, than monogamous spouses. Co-wives are least cooperative toward each other and polygynous husbands are less cooperative with each of their wives than monogamous husbands are with their one wife. Finally, there are differences across the household types in the way husbands and wives condition their cooperativeness on how much they believe their spouses and co-wives will cooperate. Specifically, behavior in polygynous households is more reciprocal and apparently less altruistic than in monogamous households. This has implications for the design of poverty alleviation programs that transfer resources either in cash or in-kind.

Keywords: Poverty, Households, Marriage, Cooperative Activities, Decision Making, Resource Allocation, Gender, Women, Sociology, Cooperative Decision Making, Polygyny

Suggested Citation

Barr, Abigail Margaret and Dekker, Marleen and Janssens, Wendy and Kebede, Bereket and Kramer, Berber, Cooperation in Polygynous Households (March 24, 2017). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1625, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2942240

Abigail Margaret Barr (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
United Kingdom

Marleen Dekker

Leiden University - African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL) ( email )

Wassenaarseweg 52
Leiden, 2333 AK
Netherlands

Wendy Janssens

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Development Economics ( email )

Netherlands

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/

Berber Kramer

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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