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Beauty, Polygyny, and Fertility: Theory and Evidence

Listed author(s):
  • Cahu, Paul
  • Fall, Falilou
  • Pongou, Roland

We propose a simple model of a mating economy in both monogamous and polygynous cultures, and derive implications for how polygyny affects individual and aggregate fertility. We find that an attractive woman is more likely to find a high-status husband. However, when polygyny is allowed, high-status husbands naturally attract other women; this implies that female beauty increases the likelihood of entering into a polygynous relationship. A woman in a polygynous relationship produces fewer children than a woman in a monogamous relationship as long as the preference for reproduction relative to consumption is not too strong. However, the societal practice of polygyny increases aggregate fertility through two distinct channels: (1) by increasing the number of marriages; and (2) by triggering fertility contagion: a woman, whether involved in a monogamous or polygynous relationship, produces more children as polygyny becomes more prevalent in her neighborhood. We empirically validate each of the model's key predictions.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 59009.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2014
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:59009
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