Folbre examines economics of “Big Love”

Nancy Folbre

In her weekly New York Times Economix blog post, Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst economics professor, looks at what the potential economic impact of legalizing polygamy would be. Supporters of polygamy argue that it could be economically advantageous to society by increasing demand for women and creating a more efficient marriage market.  Critics, however, point out that policies and practices strongly associated with polygyny (one husband, more than one wife) can lead to negative consequences for women, both in society and as individuals.  According to Folbre, while no one fully understands the complex social dynamics, the “historical links among polygyny, patriarchy and inequality seem very strong. And monogamy — whether heterosexual or homosexual — probably has some equalizing effects for both families and communities.” (New York Times, 1/24/11)

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