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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. Herrendorf, Berthold & Teixeira, Arilton, 2003. "Monopoly Rights can Reduce Income Big Time," CEPR Discussion Papers 3854, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Barro, R.J. & Becker, G.S., 1988. "Fertility Choice In A Model Of Economic Growth," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-8, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  3. Oded Galor & David Weil, 1993. "The Gender Gap, Fertility and Growth," Working Papers 1993-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 11-26 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Mikhail Golosov & Larry E Jones & Michèle Tertilt, 2003. "Effciency with Endogenous Population Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 666156000000000310, David K. Levine.
  7. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 1997. "Monopoly rights: a barrier to riches," Staff Report 236, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  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. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  10. 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.
  11. World Bank, 2002. "World Development Indicators 2002," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13921.
  12. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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