About This Project
This research is interested in the economics of polygynous households and how that compares to monogamous households in Sierra Leone. We measure the extent to which household members compete with each other to maximize personal resources and cooperate with each other to maximize collective gains. Additionally, we measure whether resource allocation differs according to member status (such as first wife or first born son),
Ask the ScientistsJoin The Discussion
What is the context of this research?
Polygyny, the practice of one man marrying multiple wives, is a common marriage arrangement in West Africa. Around 37% of married women in Sierra Leone are in polygynous unions. These families tend to be the poorest, the most rural, and tend to have the lowest levels of literacy and educational attainment. Past research, mostly qualitative, suggests that there is acute competition between co-wives, but there is little empirical evidence of such dynamics. This study provides measures of competition and cooperation and links these outcomes to household resource allocation. Understanding bargaining power of household members provides important knowledge on how to effectively design programs that target the poor in complex maritial contexts.
What is the significance of this project?
Given how common the practice of polygyny is in Sierra Leone, and the fact that those who practice it are among the poorest, understanding the economic dynamics within these unions is imperative to designing population-specific interventions. Outcomes of polygyny differ depending on cultural/regional context and this study is first to examine this topic in the Sierra Leone. The resulting information will be beneficial to policy makers interested in targeting poor households through cash transfers or household benefit programs, especially those that currently provide benefits to either the head of the household or to only one wife.
What are the goals of the project?
The goal of the project is to collect original data and perform quantitative analysis on competition, cooperation, and resource allocation among members of polygynous and monogamous households. There is little quantitative research on the topic and none at all from Sierra Leone. This project starts to fill the research gap on socio-economic topics in one of the world’s poorest countries. We do this through a series of field experiments which measure competition between spouses and co-wives and generosity towards spouses and co-wives. A survey documents health, education, and economic outcomes for spouses and their children, intrapersonal household dynamics, and household economics for each household type (single, mono and single).
Funds for this project raised through this platform will be used to pay the subjects for their time and participation and the wages of local enumerators. Each subject will receive payments for their participation, the survey, and their performance/choices in the behavioral experiments. In total, each participant earns a minimum of $2 and can earn up $5. Enumerators are hired from the community for the data collection process. They are paid per subject and are guaranteed 24 days of work.
This project will be piloted in late July 2018. Data collection is projected to start the last week of July and will continue for four weeks, finishing in late August.
Jul 18, 2018
Connect with field partner in Freetown, SL
Jul 23, 2018
Jul 25, 2018
Jul 31, 2018
Pilot research project
Aug 06, 2018
Begin data collection
Meet the Team
I’m a graduate student of International and Development Economics at the University of San Francisco. My background is in cooperative business models and worker-owned business development. I’m interested in combining this experience with my graduate training in empirical methodology to work on solutions to poverty.
Monogamous households and single adults will also be included in our sample to compare against poly outcomes. Total sample size is 602 and consists of mainly rural households in the Makeni and Kenema regions of Sierra Leone.
- $782Total Donations
- $48.88Average Donation