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An Economic Analysis of Polygyny: The Case of Maiduguri

Amyra Grossbard
Current Anthropology
Vol. 17, No. 4 (Dec., 1976), pp. 701-707
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2741267
Page Count: 7
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An Economic Analysis of Polygyny: The Case of Maiduguri
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Abstract

This article demonstrates that economic analysis can contribute helpful insights to the understanding of marriage choices in a non-Western society. Polygyny illustrates ideally the relevance of economics to any topic where scarcity constrains the attainment of valued goals. All predictions derived from economic theory are confirmed in the empirical analysis of households in the polygynous city of Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria. The novelty of this study lies in the hypotheses generated by considering housewives as producers. The prediction of a life-cycle effect and of no tribal effect on polygyny also indicate the fruitfulness of an economic approach. The results depend crucially on simultaneous consideration of male and female attributes affecting the demand and supply of uxorial and genetricial services. Methodologically, regression techniques prove as useful in explaining polygyny and divorce as they have been in accounting for paradigms of market economies. Judging from R2, the coefficient of determination of the regressions, the variables accounted for in the analysis explain only a small fraction of reality. The purpose of the article is to show that we can learn by considering only portions of the reality of marriage choices.

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