Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Economics of Polygamy

Polygamy acted as husbandly insurance against an individual wife’s barrenness, as well as high child mortality rates, and made ill or aging wives less burdensome. If it was taboo to have sex with pregnant and lactating women (which increased a nursing child’s chances of survival), new fathers suffered neither sexual privation nor a waiting period to produce another child. And with so many children, polygamists had plenty of sons to work the land or contribute to their commercial ventures; in militaristic societies, these sons were prized as military recruits. Daughters, less valued, were still useful for domestic work, or to be advantageously married off to polygamous men.
That's from a wonderful article on the possibility of legalizing polygamy in Canada. A concern this article raised, but didn't answer, is how the culture of polygamy, like illegal drugs, might change if it was raised out of the legal shadows.


  1. I don't really see anything wrong with polygamy on a purely secular basis, and it may help stop the cult like societies that form around it, and the things like underaged marriages which take place in them.

  2. I'm unsure where I stand politically. The economic benefits (like those of regular marriage) are less important today, but the costs (like women/children trapped are probably less too).


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.