Monday, November 02, 2009

Half a Man Is Better Than None?

What happens when there aren't enough men to go around:
Women in Siberia are lobbying to legalize polygamy, a Cambridge University anthropologist reports in The Guardian in London. The critical issue is demography. Population is falling and there are fewer men than women. Caroline Humphrey, the anthropologist, said: “Women say that the legalization of polygamy would be a godsend: it would give them rights to a man’s financial and physical support, legitimacy for their children, and rights to state benefits.” Meanwhile, some Russian nationalists claim that introducing polygamy in the country would provide husbands for “10 million lonely women” and fill Mother Russia’s cradles.
This brings up the question of what would happen if there weren't enough women? Prostitution? Violence? War? Migration? Somehow, polyandry (one wife with many husbands) has never seemed to work too well.

If polygamy is legalized, it might have the same effect as suddenly reducing the number of women in the population. As many women would likely flock to the more successful men, it would leave poorer men in the lurch -- creating a gender-imbalance in the opposite direction.

(HT Richard Whitmire)

1 comment:

Ali Hasanain said...

If you think on the margin (see what I did there? =P), a woman would have the choice between having part of a rich man, or all of a poor man. Undoubtedly, some would choose the former, but I think that for women, the premium required to give up exclusivity would be huge, and this effect would be little.

I'm confident about this since polygamy IS legalized in much of the muslim world, and as far as I know (without having delved into the stats), it only plays a corrective, not an over-corrective, effect.