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From Polygamy to Serial Monogamy: a Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions

  • David de la Croix

    (Univ cath Louvain)

We consider an economy populated by males and females, both rich and poor. The society has to choose one of the following marriage institutions: polygamy, strict monogamy, and serial monogamy (divorce and remarriage). Preferences are aggregated through a voting process. 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 polygamy to monogamy. The introduction of serial monogamy follows from a further rise in either the share of rich males, or from an increase in the proportion of rich females. Strict monogamy is a prerequisite to serial monogamy, as it promotes more than polygamy the upward social mobility of females. These results also show that polygamy is compatible with democracy.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 49.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:49
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  11. Scott Drewianka, 2008. "Divorce law and family formation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 485-503, April.
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  18. Victor Hiller & Magali Recoules, 2010. "Divorce decisions, divorce laws and social norms," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 10046, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  19. Anderson, Gary M. & Tollison, Robert D., 1998. "Celestial marriage and earthly rents: Interests and the prohibition of polygamy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 169-181, October.
  20. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2005. "Sex, equality, and growth," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 807-831, August.
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