The Origins of the Institutions of Marriage
Standard economic theories of household formation predict the rise of institutionalized polygyny in response to increased resource inequality among men. We propose a theory, within the framework of a matching model of marriage, in which, in some cases, institutionalized monogamy prevails, even when resources are unequally distributed, as a result of agricultural externalities that increase the presence of pair-bonding hormones. Within marriage, hormone levels contribute to the formation of the marital pair bond, the strength of which determines a man's willingness to invest in his wife's children. These pair bonds are reinforced through physical contact between the man and his wife and can be amplified by externalities produced by certain production technologies. Both the presence of additional wives and the absence of these externalities reduce the strength of the marital bond and, where the fitness of a child is increasing in paternal investment, reduce a woman's expected lifetime fertility. Multiple equilibria in terms of the dominant form of marriage (for example, polygyny or monogamy) are possible, if the surplus to a match is a function of reproductive success as well as material income. Using evidence from the Standard Cross Cultural Sample and Murdock's Ethnographic Atlas, we find that agricultural production externalities that affect neurological pair-bonding incentives significantly reduce the tendency to polygyny, even when resource inequality is present.
|Date of creation:||Aug 2008|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (613) 533-2250
Fax: (613) 533-6668
Web page: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Bertocchi, Graziella, 2003.
"The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
3723, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Graziella Bertocchi, 2006. "The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 43-70, 03.
- Avi Simhon & Eric D. Gould & Omer Moav, 2005.
"The Mystery of Monogamy,"
2005 Meeting Papers
370, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer & Simhon, Avi, 2004. "The Mystery of Monogamy," CEPR Discussion Papers 4803, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Gould, Eric D. & Moav, Omer & Simhon, Avi, 2003. "The Mystery Of Monogamy," Discussion Papers 14992, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management.
- Paul J. Zak, 2005. "The Neuroeconomics of Trust," Experimental 0507004, EconWPA.
- Pryor,Frederic L., 2005. "Economic Systems of Foraging, Agricultural, and Industrial Societies," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521849043.
- Zak, Paul J. & Fakhar, Ahlam, 2006. "Neuroactive hormones and interpersonal trust: International evidence," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 412-429, December.
- Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2005. "Sex, equality, and growth," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 807-831, August.
- Pryor,Frederic L., 2005. "Economic Systems of Foraging, Agricultural, and Industrial Societies," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521613477.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1180. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Babcock)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.