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

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  • Richard Akresh
  • Joyce J. Chen
  • Charity T. Moore

Abstract

Altruism toward others can inhibit cooperation by increasing the utility players expect to receive in a noncooperative equilibrium. To test this, we examine agricultural productivity in West African polygynous households. We find cooperation, as evidenced by more efficient production, is greater among co-wives than among husbands and wives. Using a game-theoretic model, we show that this outcome can arise because co-wives are less altruistic toward each other than toward their husbands. We present a variety of robustness checks, which suggest results are not driven by selection into polygyny, greater propensity for cooperation among women, or household heads enforcing others' cooperative agreements.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Akresh & Joyce J. Chen & Charity T. Moore, 2016. "Altruism, Cooperation, and Efficiency: Agricultural Production in Polygynous Households," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(4), pages 661-696.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/686668
    DOI: 10.1086/686668
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    Cited by:

    1. Joyce J. Chen & LaPorchia A. Collins, 2014. "Let's Talk About the Money: Spousal Communication, Expenditures, and Farm Production," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1272-1290.
    2. Deschênes, Sarah & Dumas, Christelle & Lambert, Sylvie, 2020. "Household resources and individual strategies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 135(C).
    3. Kazianga, Harounan & Wahhaj, Zaki, 2017. "Intra-household resource allocation and familial ties," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 109-132.
    4. Julia Anna Matz, 2016. "Productivity, Rank, and Returns in Polygamy," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(5), pages 1319-1350, October.
    5. Akuriba, M. & Haagsma, R. & Heerink, N. & Dittoh, S., 2018. "Sustaining small scale irrigation systems: the role of users," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277280, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. Tim Krieger & Laura Renner, 2020. "Polygyny, Inequality, and Social Unrest," CESifo Working Paper Series 8230, CESifo.
    7. Karimli, Leyla & Lecoutere, Els & Wells, Christine R. & Ismayilova, Leyla, 2021. "More assets, more decision-making power? Mediation model in a cluster-randomized controlled trial evaluating the effect of the graduation program on women's empowerment in Burkina Faso," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    8. Owoo, Nkechi S. & Upton, Joanna & Bageant, Elizabeth, 2017. "Food Insecurity and Family Structure in Nigeria," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258469, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. Vellore Arthi & James Fenske, 2018. "Polygamy and child mortality: Historical and modern evidence from Nigeria’s Igbo," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 97-141, March.
    10. Anyck Dauphin, 2013. "The Role of Polygyny in the Intrahousehold Efficiency of Agricultural Production in West Africa," Cahiers de recherche 1323, CIRPEE.
    11. Shunji Oniki & Melaku Berhe & Teklay Negash, 2020. "Role of Social Norms in Natural Resource Management: The Case of the Communal Land Distribution Program in Northern Ethiopia," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-1, January.
    12. Wilson, Nicholas, 2018. "Altruism in preventive health behavior: At-scale evidence from the HIV/AIDS pandemic," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 119-129.
    13. Heath, Rachel & Hidrobo, Melissa & Roy, Shalini, 2020. "Cash transfers, polygamy, and intimate partner violence: Experimental evidence from Mali," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    14. Oniki, S. & Berhe, M. & Negash, T., 2018. "Roles of the social norms on participation in the communal land distribution program in Ethiopia," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277070, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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