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From Polygyny to Serial Monogamy: A Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions

  • David De La Croix
  • Fabio Mariani

Marriage institutions have changed over time, evolving from polygyny to monogamy, and then to serial monogamy (as defined by divorce and remarriage). We propose a unified theory of such institutional changes, where the dynamics of income distribution are the driving force. We characterize the marriage-market equilibrium in each of the three alternative regimes, and determine which one emerges as a political equilibrium, depending on the state of the economy. In a two-class society, a rise in the share of rich males drives the change from polygyny to monogamy. The introduction of serial monogamy follows from a further rise in the proportion of either rich females or rich males. Monogamy eases the transition to serial monogamy, since it promotes social mobility.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdv001
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 82 (2015)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 565-607

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:82:y:2015:i:2:p:565-607
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