The mystery of polygamy

Bethmann, Dirk & Kvasnicka, Michael (2009) The mystery of polygamy. In Proceedings of Econometric Society Australasian Meeting in 2009, The Australian National University/The Econometric Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, pp. 1-28.

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The economic literature on marriage identifies a number of benefits of marriage and discusses mechanisms that cause societies to prefer certain marital structures such as polygamy or monogamy. In principle, however, these benefits and mechanisms might lead societies towards polyandry and even cenogamy. The rareness of polyandry and the absence of cenogamy, however, clearly indicate that important aspects of marriage are omitted. This paper argues that the reproductive nature of marital arrangements must be taken into account when analyzing the foundations of marriage. Monogamy always achieves efficient parental investments in offspring. For polygamous arrangements this might be often true. It fails, however, in polyandry because paternity cannot be established with certainty. Cenogamy is shown to be an unstable arrangement.

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ID Code: 32145
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Monogamy, Polygyny, Polyandry, Paternal uncertainty, Reproductive Capacity
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ECONOMICS (140000) > APPLIED ECONOMICS (140200) > Applied Economics not elsewhere classified (140299)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ECONOMICS (140000) > Economic Theory (140100) > Microeconomic Theory (140104)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 01 Jun 2010 21:41
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2017 14:40

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