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Polygyny, Women's Rights, and Development

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  • Michèle Tertilt

Abstract

Many Sub-Saharan African countries are extremely poor. It has been argued that the marriage system-in particular polygyny-is one contributing factor to the lack of development in this region. However, enforcing monogamy has proved to be very difficult. In this paper, I argue that transferring the right of choosing a husband from fathers to daughters might be an alternative policy that could potentially be easier to enforce. I use a calibrated general equilibrium model of polygyny to analyze such a policy. I find that giving daughters more choices has similar economic effects as a ban on polygyny. Both policies decrease the return on wives for men and thereby raise the incentive to invest in alternative assets. This increases the capital stock and hence GDP per capita. Quantitatively, however, I find that enforcing monogamy has much larger effects. (JEL: E0, O11, O55, J12, J13) (c) 2006 by the European Economic Association.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 4 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (04-05)
Pages: 523-530

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:4:y:2006:i:2-3:p:523-530

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RePEc Biblio mentions

As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
  1. > Demographic Economics > The Economics of Polygamy
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Cited by:
  1. Todd Schoellman & Michèle Tertilt, 2006. "Marriage Laws and Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 295-298, May.
  2. Dalton, John T. & Leung, Tin Cheuk, 2011. "Why is Polygyny More Prevalent in Western Africa?: An African Slave Trade Perspective," MPRA Paper 32598, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Raquel Fernandez, 2010. "Women's Rights and Development," Working Papers 2011-029, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  4. Michèle Tertilt, 2012. "The Research Agenda: Michèle Tertilt on Gender in Macroeconomics," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(1), November.
  5. Raquel Fernández, 2014. "Women’s rights and development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 37-80, March.
  6. Oriana Bandiera & Niklas Buehren & Robin Burgess & Markus Goldstein & Selim Gulesci & Imran Rasul & Munshi Sulaiman, 2014. "Women’s Empowerment in Action: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Africa," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 50, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  7. Gould, Eric D. & Moav, Omer & Simhon, Avi, 2012. "Lifestyles of the rich and polygynous in Cote d’Ivoire," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 404-407.
  8. Raquel Fernández, 2009. "Women's Rights and Development," NBER Working Papers 15355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Tom Vogl, 2013. "Differential Fertility, Human Capital, and Development," Working Papers 1452, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..

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