Polygamy is usually portrayed as an old-fashioned form of life that brings economic disadvantage, discriminates women and is incompatible with a democratic society. In a recent scientific study, the economics professors David de la Croix and Fabio Mariani of the Université Catholique de Louvain present the thesis, that polygamy, in the form of polygyny, is compatible with democracy and could be economically viable for women.
In their study “From Polygyny to Serial Monogamy: A Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions“, Professor de la Croix and Professor Mariani deem the existing research results and theories on the question, which form of family-life was original to humans, as inconclusive.
This result is important for today’s political debate about Polygamous lifestyles, as opponents of Polyamory and Polygamy, especially representatives of Christian churches usually claim, it was clear that humans were monogamous by nature. The exactly opposite position is taken, for example, by Chris Ryan and Cacilda Jethá in “Sex at Dawn”. Based on extensive research they claim that the original way of life of humans was openly practiced promiscuity, which held many benefits for the individuals and the group they belonged to.
In spite of uncertainties about the original form of family life, de la Croix and Mariani say genetic studies have proven that in the course of history promiscuous sexual behavior in a polygynous form (= one man, multiple women) became the usual way of life and eventually became institutionalized as polygynous marriage. Polygyny was for a long time the predominant way of life and is still prevalent in surviving traditional societies.
In Western societies, by a multitude of factors, lifelong monogamous marriage became the dominant form of marriage and was enforced especially by the influence of the Christian church during the Middle Ages. This dominance was later broken by alterations in the laws on marriage and divorce. Today in Western societies serial monogamy is the norm.
The aim of the study was to unify current economic theories of why humans changed from polygamous life to monogamy. In the course of their studies de la Croix and Mariani also concluded that polygamous lifestyles in the form of polygyny can evolve in modern societies due to the economic interests of individuals, especially poorer women, and are compatible with democray. 1
Not being an economic scientist myself, i can not judge on the consistency of the economic models and formulas presented in the study. Professor de la Croix wrote to me in an email, this part of the study was certainly of interest only to scientists in theoretical economics.
Nevertheless, this is the first study I know of that proves with scientific economic theory that in modern, democratic societies polygamy can be a sensible way of life that is in the interest of people, especially the interests of women.
I would only like to add, since the study primarily focuses on polygynous relationships (= a man with several wives), it does not take into account that in today’s poly-movement women increasingly have several husbands. Also the possibility of homosexual or bisexual poly-relationships is not taken into account, about which I have written in this article. I think any kind of multiple relationship among adults, into which all parties enter voluntarily and with the knowledge and consent of all participants is compatible with liberal-democratic societies: Theses on polygamy and monogamy.What do you think? Leave a comment here (please scroll down to end of page) or send me a question through the contact form or the FAQ.
The study, “From Polygyny to Serial Monogamy: A Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions” is available for download on the website of the University as well as the personal website of Professor de la Croix.
Professor David de la Croix and Professor Fabio Mariani teach at the Université Catholique de Louvain, here you will find information on the Université catholique de Louvain on Wikipedia.
Notice: This article is translated – and some contents might have been added or left out to better meet the needs of an international audience – from an original article on one of my german websites Viktor-Leberecht.de or Polygamie-ist-gut-fuer-sie.de (engl:Polygamy is good for you). How i do my translations. Last updated: July 20, 2012 at 17:39 pm © Viktor Leberecht All rights reserved. Please feel free to share my content, but on republishing this post please provide a link to the original post, which happens automatically when you use Social-Sharing-Services. What do you think? Leave a comment here or send me a question through the contact form or the FAQ.
- Professor de la Croix in an email to me pointed out that he and Professor Mariani did not mean to represent polygamy or any other particular form of marriage as being particularly suitable for humans. ↩