What is it about?

This work develops a new model to explain the evolution of monogamous marriages in humans. The previous model, the polygyny threshold model, fails to explain the monogamous marriage norms in societies with greater possibilities for wealth accumulation. The article tests the new model on empirical data from 29 diverse societies.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that optimal decisions marry are dependent on the degree of wealth inequality in a society along with the diminishing marginal value for men to add additional wives. The article is important in that it proposes a new model--the mutual mate choice model--to better explain marriage patterns cross culturally. In addition the paper tests the model with evidence from 29 societies.


Previous researchers argue that social rules enforcing monogamy are the main drivers of monogamous marriage norms. This research shows that underlying social and economic processes favor monogamy in agricultural societies.

Professor John P Ziker
Boise State University

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This page is a summary of: Greater wealth inequality, less polygyny: rethinking the polygyny threshold model, Journal of The Royal Society Interface, July 2018, Royal Society Publishing, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0035.
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