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From Polygyny to Serial Monogamy: A Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions

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  • de la Croix, David

    (Université catholique de Louvain)

  • Mariani, Fabio

    (Université catholique de Louvain)

Abstract

Consider an economy populated by males and females, both rich and poor. The society has to choose one of the following marriage institutions: polygyny, strict monogamy, and serial monogamy (divorce and remarriage). After having identified the conditions under which each of these equilibria exists, we show that a rise in the share of rich males can explain a change of regime from polygyny to monogamy. The introduction of serial monogamy follows from a further rise in either the proportion of rich males, or an increase in the proportion of rich females. Strict monogamy is a prerequisite to serial monogamy, as it promotes the upward social mobility of females more than polygyny. We also show that polygyny is compatible with democracy.

Suggested Citation

  • de la Croix, David & Mariani, Fabio, 2012. "From Polygyny to Serial Monogamy: A Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions," IZA Discussion Papers 6599, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6599
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    political economy; marriage; polygyny; monogamy; divorce; human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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