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I've long been interested in the subject of gay arranged marriages in India... though gay polygymy also sounds interesting. Have there been studies done?


Responding to Hans Bader:

I don't see how your stats regarding who initiates divorce matter. You're assuming that the person who intends to "trade-in" is necessarily the one who initiates the divorce. However, it seems more likely to me that a person who is "trading in" will test drive the merchandise while they are still married to the older woman. Thus, it is probably the person who did NOT want to trade in who initiates the divorce because they have discovered the intentions of the other. Thus, it seems to me, that if men are "trading in" more often than women, then your statistics actually support that notion. I suspect that people who are cheating do not typically initiate divorce, but rather they simply get caught, accept that divorce is inevitable and so embrace the younger model they have "traded-in" for.


>Men who do not have much to offer women would be more likely than under monogamy to remain unmarried

Remember that it's not just the poorest men who suffer under polygamy - every man will relatively suffer. A quick game - we have 100 men and 100 women, and we are able to rate their absolute attractiveness from 1 (most attractive) to 100 (least). In monogamous societies, man 1 will marry women 1, and man 2 women 2. However in polygamous societies, man 1 will marry woman 1-3, man 2 will marry woman 4-6, and so on.

Besides the fact that this will leave 66% of the population single (!), man 2, the second most elite character in teh game, has to weigh trading in #2 for #4-6, man 10, trading in woman 10 for women 27-30. Man 10 is still in the top 10% of men, but he may see himself as getting a bad deal in this brave new world.


How about some empirics? Malaysia might provide an excellent testing environment. There are four main cultures, Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Eurasian. The Malays are Muslim. A Malay man may take up to four wives. Malaysia has 14 states. A Malay man upon marriage makes two payments for his wife, one to the state (the official payment) and one to his wife's family. The official payment is a nominal amount that is regulated (and differs) by each of the 14 states. The unofficial payment differs across marriages. It is supposedly highest in the wealthier south where the opportunity cost of staying in the home is highest for a woman. It could be that the relative frequency of multiple wife marriages is lower in the south. At any rate, I would think this is a fertile environment for conducting tests, both within the Malay culture and across states and between cultures across states.


Hans Bader: Even if women initiate divorce proceedings more frequently than men, it does not follow that men are not trading-in their wives for a younger model. It's not enough simply to say that women are filing for divorce more often than men. You have to explain why women are filing for divorce. If women are filing for divorce because men are having affairs with younger women, then your statistics don't help your argument; they hurt it.


Was polygyny initiated as a policy in response to the tendencies for child bearing age females to outnumber males because of mortaility suffered in combat, which is almost exclusively male?

It would seem that a sovereign always at war would use this system to maintain population stability and enable young widows to continue child bearing in society where out of wedlock births are discouraged.


two thoughts;

(1) opposition to polygamy may be based on the incorrect or correct association of this practice with cults/religious leaders who use power and influence to 'brainwash' followers

(2) maybe there is concern that even if N:1 matches were allowed by either sex that, at least in certain socioeconomic segments of society where male dominance is more accepted, this would increase inequality between the sexes and lead to increased power struggles...loss of independence.


Polyandry typically involves brothers sharing a bride. Polygamy almost always requires control over the females to ensure little to no cuckolding.
Presently, the rich alpha males (RAMs) have more progeny in their serial marriages than Joe Blow Sixpack. Further, RAMs have access to the younger females, and thus their progeny has significant benefits over their lower ranking competitors born of older mothers. Joe Blow has a cruel dillema -- to forgo reproduction to collect the means to raise a child (late marriages and child birth with a higher risk of congenital defects), or have children early with few resources for parenting. RAMs have the best world now and if polygamy is legalized.

In a polygamous world, assuming we are not in one already, the reality would be similar to what we see now. There will be less emphasis on female education and employment if the trend takes off.

However, if polyandry and polygyny were both allowed, then rich women would have males for entertainment, but would be limited as to reproduction because their age is the major limitation that cannot be suffficiently compensated by their partners' youth. They may elect to freeze eggs in their youth as a routine procedure or invest in development of techniques to make best use of their youth for exploitation well into their old age.

The opposite is true for the RAMs. They will be less inclined to invest in such technologies. Nature presently favors polygyny over polyandry.

In view of these possibilities, I think pot should be legalized first.


In protection of polygamy, someone once said,'if one man takes more than one wife, it dosent affect the number of women of marriable age, does it?'


Stripped to essence, the 'economic' argument in favor of polygamy is simply the 'free trade argument'. Contracting parties would not enter into an arrangement unless they would be better off by doing so. Prohibition of such arrangements by the State, negative externalities apart, is then a puzzle to be addressed. There is a long list of puzzles in this world view ranging from mandatory seat belts to abolition of slavery by the State. Economists, and I am one, attempt to resolve these puzzles by arguing about negative externalities. For instance, regarding polygamy, Judge Posner thinks that negative externalities are sufficiently important and complex that prohibition on polygamy may be a second best solution. However, there is a another possibility. May be the State is not the same as utility maximizing "social planner" of economic models. To my understanding, the US government is founded on the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Its ideals are, or should I say ought to be, liberty, equality and other values outlined in Bill of Rights. If one were to think of the State as 'social planner', most of what it does, not just illegality of polygamy, would be a puzzle. The State has an objective function of its own which differs from maximizing utility of citizens as citizens see fit. May be it is too much to expect an economist to get it right, constrained as they are with their methodological training. But et tu, Judge Posner?


With more than half of couples in the US now living in non-marital households, it is puzzling why more people are not choosing to openly cohabit in plural arrangements.


The answer to why polygamy is not advisable may be found in the answer to the following question:
What are the benefits (financial, psychological, emotional) accruing to a woman whose husband plans to marry one more time and vice-versa)?

Hans Bader

Jack and 1881 argue that the fact that the vast majority of divorces are initiated by women, not men, doesn't prove that men are not trading their wives in for younger models, because it could be the case that the women are initiating divorces because of their husbands' infidelity with older women.

This is simply untrue, as an avalanche of data shows. In fact, male and female infidelity rates are fairly similar.

Moreover, I explained the fallacy of this claim in my earlier post, when I observed that most divorce are NO-FAULT divorces. Even in jurisdictions where adultery is a ground for divorce and it is considered as a factor in alimony or property division by the divorce-court judge, most divorces sought by wives and husbands alike are NO-FAULT divorces.

It is also worth noting that when divorced men remarry, it is (a) usually to a woman they were not dating, or cheating with, during their prior marriage, and (b) they usually marry a woman whose age is, on average, within 3 years of their own age -- a rather similar age, and hardly a case of a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis and choosing to chase young women.

The fact that the commenters ignored my post's well-grounded explanation that most divorces are no-fault divorces, not divorces based on adultery, and raised a possibility that I had already debunked, shows how powerful false gender stereotypes are about divorced husbands.

In short, men seldom "trade in" their wives for younger models, and empirically, they are more reluctant to leave their marriages, on average, then women are.

Given a choice between believing the real world statistics gathered by researchers and the National Center for Health Statistics, on one hand, and the false gender stereotypes fostered by movies like the First Wives Club, on the other hand, many people will cheerfully pick the false gender stereotypes.

But that doesn't make the false stereotypes true.

Incidentally, I am married, and have never been divorced.


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I've read the comments about why polygamy is bad. From spouse abuse to child abuse to even reducing the pool of women available.

I know of several women who are nearly 40, never been married and want to live polygamy. What's interesting is they have met a lot of guys out there who are jerks or have other hang ups. So reducing the available pool isn't affecting anyone here. And besides, what is really the issue here with making polygamy illegal?

I read that it's stems back from the edmund / tucker act in the 1800's. Seems the government wanted to regulate morality.

Is this still the intent for the law today or have we moved past regulating morality? If so then we need to decriminalize it. The law only makes criminals of people who want to be responsible for their family.

Adultry isn't against the law. Neither should polygamy.


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