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

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  • David de la Croix

    (Univ cath Louvain)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • David de la Croix, 2012. "From Polygamy to Serial Monogamy: a Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions," 2012 Meeting Papers 49, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:49
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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