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Marriage Regimes

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  • Dirk Bethmann

    () (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

Abstract

Marriage regimes exist in many guises and forms. Economists have studied monogamy and polygyny, the two most commonly encountered types, and pointed to various benefits that can explain why and which individuals form conjugal unions in each regime. However, many of these same benefits should favor polygamy over monogamy more generally, including polyandrous and cenogamous marriages, which are only rarely observed in practice. We show that human reproductive technology in combination with regime-specific potential for conflict among parents of the same and opposite sex over resources devoted to own children can explain why monogamy is most common, polygyny frequent, polyandry rare, and cenogamy virtually non-existent. Within-wives conflicts over resources also provide an alternative explanation for why polygyny has historically been less common than monogamy and why the former has declined in many parts of the world over the last century.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Bethmann, 2011. "Marriage Regimes," FEMM Working Papers 110029, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mag:wpaper:110029
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    File URL: http://www.fww.ovgu.de/fww_media/femm/femm_2011/2011_29.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2011
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dirk Bethmann & Michael Kvasnicka, 2011. "The institution of marriage," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(3), pages 1005-1032, July.
    2. Dirk Bethmann & Michael Kvasnicka, 2005. "Paternal Uncertainty and the Economics of Mating, Marriage, and Parental Investment in Children," Labor and Demography 0510001, EconWPA.
    3. Francesconi, Marco & Ghiglino, Christian & Perry, Motty, 2009. "On the Origin of the Family," IZA Discussion Papers 4637, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Donald Cox, 2003. "Private Transfers within the Family: Mothers, Fathers, Sons and Daughters," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 605, Boston College Department of Economics.
    5. Lena Edlund & Evelyn Korn, 2002. "A Theory of Prostitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 181-214, February.
    6. Grossbard-Shechtman, Amyra, 1986. "Economic behavior, marriage and fertility : Two lessons from polygyny," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 415-424, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Marriage Regimes; Monogamy; Polygyny; Polyandry; Paternal Uncertainty; Reproductive Capacity;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact

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