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Polygyny, Fertility, and Savings

Listed author(s):
  • Michele Tertilt

Sub-Saharan Africa has a high incidence of polygyny. It is also the poorest region of the world. In this paper I ask whether banning polygyny could play any role for development. Using a quantitative model of polygyny, I find that enforcing monogamy lowers fertility, shrinks the spousal age gap, and reverses the direction of marriage payments. Polygyny leads to high bride-prices to "ration" women, which makes buying wives and selling daughters a good investment, thus crowding out investment in physical assets. For reasonable parameter values, I find that banning polygyny decreases fertility by 40 percent, increases savings by 70 percent, and increases output per capita by 170 percent.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/498049
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 113 (2005)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1341-1370

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:113:y:2005:i:6:p:1341-1370
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  1. Mikhail Golosov & Larry E. Jones & Michèle Tertilt, 2007. "Efficiency with Endogenous Population Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(4), pages 1039-1071, 07.
  2. Herrendorf, Berthold & Teixeira, Arilton, 2003. "Monopoly Rights can Reduce Income Big Time," CEPR Discussion Papers 3854, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  4. Edward C. Prescott & Stephen L. Parente, 1999. "Monopoly Rights: A Barrier to Riches," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1216-1233, December.
  5. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-387, June.
  6. Barro, Robert J & Becker, Gary S, 1989. "Fertility Choice in a Model of Economic Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 481-501, March.
  7. World Bank, 2002. "World Development Indicators 2002," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13921, December.
  8. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  10. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 11-26, Part II, .
  11. Zhang, Junsen, 1994. "Bequest as a Public Good within Marriage: A Note," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 187-193, February.
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