Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Polygyny, Inequality, and Social Unrest - Exploring the Mechanisms

Laura Renner, Postdoctoral Researcher, Wilfried Guth, Endowed Chair for Constitutional Political Economy and Competition Policy, University of Freiburg


This paper proposes three mechanisms via which polygyny may be related to social unrest. We propose three theoretical mechanisms that are related to different dimensions of grievances-inducing and, partly, greed-related inequality, which may occur in polygynous societies. These dimensions include (i) economic, reproductive and social inequality resulting in relative deprivation among non-elite men; (ii) inequality within elites when it comes to the distribution of resources and inheritance, both related to the relative position of dependent family members in a clan; and (iii) gender inequality in general. Using data for 41 African countries, we provide first evidence on these mechanisms and their relation to social unrest between 1990 and 2014.