Giving and taking between husband, wives, and co-wives

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Over 40% of women in many West African countries are in polygynous marriages—the practice of having more than one wife. This has created a challenge for development programs that wish to help all family members equally, especially children.

Polygynous husbands and wives cooperate less than monogamous ones and may contribute resources to the household with less altruistic motives, according to a paper in the April issue of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Authors Abigail Barr, Marleen Dekker, Wendy Janssens, Bereket Kebede, and IFPRI’s Berber Kramerconducted an experiment in Nigeria with 448 individuals who were in either monogamous marriages or polygynous marriages involving two wives.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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