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

  • Akresh, Richard

    ()

    (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Chen, Joyce J.

    ()

    (Ohio State University)

  • Moore, Charity

    ()

    (Ohio State University)

Altruism among family members can, in some cases, inhibit cooperation by increasing the utility that players expect to receive in a non-cooperative equilibrium. To test this, we examine agricultural productivity in polygynous households in West Africa. We find that cooperation is greater – production is more efficient – among co-wives than among husbands and wives because co-wives are less altruistic towards each other. The results are not driven by scale effects or self-selection into polygyny. Nor can they be explained by greater propensity for cooperation among women generally or by the household head acting as an enforcement mechanism for others' cooperative agreements.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6265.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6265
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  1. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," Cahiers de recherche 0103, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  2. Kazianga, Harounan & Klonner, Stefan, 2009. "The Intra-household Economics of Polygyny: Fertility and Child Mortality in Rural Mali," MPRA Paper 12859, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Harounan Kanzianga & Zaki Wahhaj, 2010. "Gender, Social Norms and Household Production in Burkina Faso," CSAE Working Paper Series 2010-33, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  4. Dubois, Pierre & Ligon, Ethan, 2009. "Nutrition and Risk Sharing within the Household," TSE Working Papers 09-108, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  5. Michael Kevane & Leslie Gray, 1999. "A Woman's Field Is Made At Night: Gendered Land Rights And Norms In Burkina Faso," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 1-26.
  6. Gustavo J. Bobonis, 2009. "Is the Allocation of Resources within the Household Efficient? New Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(3), pages 453-503, 06.
  7. Richard Akresh & Joyce J. Chen & Charity T. Moore, 2012. "Productive Efficiency and the Scope for Cooperation in Polygynous Households," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 94(2), pages 395-401.
  8. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
  9. Michele Tertilt, 2005. "Polygyny, Fertility, and Savings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1341-1370, December.
  10. Peterman, Amber & Quisumbing, Agnes & Behrman, Julia & Nkonya, Ephraim, 2010. "Understanding gender differences in agricultural productivity in Uganda and Nigeria," IFPRI discussion papers 1003, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  11. John G. McPeak & Cheryl R. Doss, 2006. "Are Household Production Decisions Cooperative? Evidence on Pastoral Migration and Milk Sales from Northern Kenya," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(3), pages 525-541.
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  14. Quisumbing, Agnes R., 1996. "Male-female differences in agricultural productivity: Methodological issues and empirical evidence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(10), pages 1579-1595, October.
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