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The lion’s share. An experimental analysis of polygamy in Northern Nigeria

Author

Listed:
  • Alistair Munro

    (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)

  • Bereket Kebede

    (School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia)

  • Marcela Tarazona-Gomez

    (School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia)

  • Arjan Verschoor

    (School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia)

Abstract

Using samples of polygamous and non-polygamous households from villages in rural areas south of Kano, Northern Nigeria we test basic theories of household behaviour. Husbands and wives play two variants of a voluntary contributions game in which endowments are private knowledge, but contributions are public. In one variant, the common pool is split equally. In the other treatment the husband allocates the pool (and wives are forewarned of this). Most partners keep back at least half of their endowment from the common pool, but we find no evidence that polygynous households are less efficient than their monogamous counterparts. We also reject a strong form of Bergstrom’s model of polygyny in which all wives receive an equal allocation. In our case, senior wives often receive more from their husbands, no matter what their contribution. Thus the return to contributions is higher for senior wives compared to their junior counterparts. When they control the allocation, polygynous men receive a higher payoff than their monogamous counterparts. We speculate on the implications of this pattern of investment and reward for the sustainability of polygynous institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Alistair Munro & Bereket Kebede & Marcela Tarazona-Gomez & Arjan Verschoor, 2010. "The lion’s share. An experimental analysis of polygamy in Northern Nigeria," GRIPS Discussion Papers 10-27, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ngi:dpaper:10-27
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Peter Kuhn & Jacques Robert, 1989. "Seniority and Distribution in a Two-Worker Trade Union," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(3), pages 485-505.
    2. Harounan Kazianga & Stefan Klonner, 2009. "The Intra-household Economics of Polygyny: Fertility and Child Mortality in Rural Mali," Economics Working Paper Series 0902, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    3. Eric D. Gould & Omer Moav & Avi Simhon, 2008. "The Mystery of Monogamy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 333-357, March.
    4. John A. Maluccio & John Hoddinott & Jere R. Behrman & Reynaldo Martorell & Agnes R. Quisumbing & Aryeh D. Stein, 2009. "The Impact of Improving Nutrition During Early Childhood on Education among Guatemalan Adults," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 734-763, April.
    5. Biorn, Erik, 2004. "Regression systems for unbalanced panel data: a stepwise maximum likelihood procedure," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 281-291, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alistair Munro, 2014. "Hide and Seek: A Theory of Efficient Income Hiding within the Household," GRIPS Discussion Papers 14-17, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    2. Lecoutere, Els & Jassogne, Laurence, 2016. ""We're in this together": Changing intra-household decision making for more cooperative smallholder farming," IOB Working Papers 2016.02, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
    3. repec:eee:jjieco:v:33:y:2014:i:c:p:114-133 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Holden, Stein & Bezu, Sosina, 2014. "Are Wives less Selfish than their Husbands? Evidence from Hawk-Dove Game Field Experiments," CLTS Working Papers 3/14, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
    5. Lépine, Aurélia & Strobl, Eric, 2013. "The Effect of Women’s Bargaining Power on Child Nutrition in Rural Senegal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 17-30.
    6. Alistair Munro & Bereket Kebede & Marcela Tarazona-Gomez & Arjan Verschoor, 2011. "Autonomy or efficiency: An experiment on household decisions in two regions of India," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 11-02, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    7. Bereket Kebede & Marcela Tarazona & Alistair Munro & Arjan Verschoor, 2014. "Intra-household Efficiency: An Experimental Study from Ethiopia," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 23(1), pages 105-150.
    8. Munro, Alistair & Kebede, Bereket & Tarazona-Gomez, Marcela & Verschoor, Arjan, 2014. "Autonomy and efficiency. An experiment on household decisions in two regions of India," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, pages 114-133.
    9. Julia Anna Matz, 2016. "Productivity, Rank, and Returns in Polygamy," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), pages 1319-1350.
    10. Arjan Verschoor & Bereket Kebede & Alistair Munro & Marcela Tarazona, 2017. "Spousal Control and Efficiency of Intra-Household Decision Making: Experiments among Married Couples in India, Ethiopia and Nigeria," GRIPS Discussion Papers 16-31, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    11. Hélène Couprie & Elisabeth Cudeville & Catherine Sofer, 2017. "Efficiency versus Gender Roles and Stereotypes: An Experiment in Domestic Production," THEMA Working Papers 2017-10, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.

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    Keywords

    Polygyny; Polygamy; Experiment; Household; Nigeria;

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