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Polygyny, inequality, and social unrest

Tim Krieger and Laura Renner

No 2020-02, Discussion Paper Series from University of Freiburg, Wilfried Guth Endowed Chair for Constitutional Political Economy and Competition Policy

Abstract: This paper proposes three theoretical mechanisms through which polygyny may be related to social unrest. The mechanisms are related to different dimensions of grievance-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 from 1990{2014, we provide evidence for these mechanisms and their relationship to social unrest. We find that especially the first and third dimension of inequality are correlated with social unrest. Furthermore, we consider several potential counter-arguments but do not find support for them.

Keywords: Polygyny; Inequality; Women's Rights; Social Unrest; Africa; Institutions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D74 J12 J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr and nep-soc
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Working Paper: Polygyny, Inequality, and Social Unrest (2020) Downloads
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