Why Is Polygyny More Prevalent in Western Africa? An African Slave Trade Perspective

  title={Why Is Polygyny More Prevalent in Western Africa? An African Slave Trade Perspective},
  author={John T. Dalton and Tin Cheuk Leung},
  journal={Economic Development and Cultural Change},
  pages={599 - 632}
Polygyny rates are higher in western Africa than in eastern Africa. The African slave trades help explain this difference. More male slaves were exported in the transatlantic slave trades from western Africa, while more female slaves were exported in the Indian Ocean slave trades from eastern Africa. The slave trades led to prolonged periods of abnormal sex ratios, which affected the rates of polygyny across Africa. In order to assess these claims, we present evidence from a variety of sources… Expand
Witchcraft beliefs as a cultural legacy of the Atlantic slave trade: Evidence from two continents
Abstract This paper argues that the historical slave trade contributed to the propagation of persistent witchcraft beliefs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and establishes two key empiricalExpand
Droughts, conflict, and the African slave trade
Historians have frequently suggested that droughts helped facilitate the African slave trade. By introducing a previously unused dataset on 19th century rainfall levels in Africa, I provide the firstExpand
The Long-Term Determinants of Female HIV Infection in Africa: The Slave Trade, Polygyny, and Sexual Behavior
Polygyny is associated with unsatisfying marital relationships, particularly for women, with consequent female infidelity and an increased risk of infection, which is further multiplied for women co-habiting within polygynous households. Expand
Polygynous Neighbors, Excess Men, and Intergroup Conflict in Rural Africa
We argue that polygyny creates a social imbalance where few, economically well-off men marry many wives and many poor men marry late or never. By definition, polygyny produces what we refer to asExpand
The African Slave Trade and Modern Household Finance
We evaluate the impact of the African slave trade between 1400 and 1900 on modern household finance. Exploiting cross-country and cross-ethnic group differences in the intensity with which peopleExpand
Condemned and Condoned: Polygynous Marriage in Christian Africa.
This study contributes to a better understanding of the role of Christianity in the persistence of polygyny in sub-Saharan Africa by analyzing a rich combination of quantitative and qualitative data from a predominantly Christian district in Mozambique. Expand
Decolonizing with Data
Our understanding of Africa's economic past -- the causes and consequences of precolonial polities, the slave trade, state formation, the Scramble for Africa, European settlement, and independence --Expand
Maize and Precolonial Africa
Columbus’s arrival in the New World triggered an unprecedented movement of people and crops across the Atlantic Ocean. We study an overlooked part of this Columbian Exchange: the effects of New WorldExpand
Partnerships and production: Agriculture and polygyny in Tanzanian households
Women make important contributions to household food production in sub‐Saharan Africa. Women's agricultural productivity is often reduced, however, by inefficient intrahousehold allocation ofExpand
Only women can whisper to gods: Voodoo, menopause and women’s autonomy
Abstract In various parts of the world women gain autonomy in decision-making as they get older. We hypothesize that part of this age-dividend is rooted in (historical) beliefs regarding theExpand


The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa
In a recent study, Nunn (2008) examines the long-term impacts of Africa’s slave trade. He finds that the slave trade, which occurred over a period of more than 400 years, had a significant negativeExpand
Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa
This history of African slavery from the fifteenth to the early twentieth centuries examines how indigenous African slavery developed within an international context. Paul E. Lovejoy discusses theExpand
Slave Prices, the African Slave Trade, and Productivity in the Caribbean, 1674-1807
tropical empire that the Spanish acquired generated gold and silver exports, and incomes that were likely higher than in the rest of Europe.3Yet within less than three centuries, the centre ofExpand
Many Sub-Saharan African countries are extremely poor. It has been argued that the marriage system-in particular polygyny-is one contributing factor to the lack of development in this region.Expand
Slaves and society in Western Africa, c. 1445— c. 1700
Published European first-hand accounts of the coastlands from Senegal to Angola for the period c. 1445- c . 1700 are examined to see what light they throw on the extent to which institutions ofExpand
The Economics of Polygyny in Sub-Saharan Africa: Female Productivity and the Demand for Wives in Côte d'Ivoire
Polygyny is still practiced throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, with important social consequences. This paper makes the first attempt to link African polygyny directly to the productivity ofExpand
Slave Purchasing Strategies and Shipboard Mortality: Day-to-Day Evidence from the Dutch African Trade, 1751–1797
The mortality of enslaved Africans in the Atlantic crossing has long preoccupied historians but the relationship between slave traders' purchasing strategies and slave mortality rates in transit hasExpand
African polygamy: Past and present
I evaluate the impact of education on polygamy in Africa. Districts of French West Africa that received more colonial teachers and parts of sub-Saharan Africa that received Protestant or CatholicExpand
Causes of polygyny: ecology economy kinship and warfare.
We discuss and test competing explanations for polygyny based on household economics, malecentered kin groups, warfare, and environmental characteristics. Data consist of codes for 142 societies fromExpand
Marriage Laws and Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa
Many Sub-Saharan African countries are extremely poor. It has been argued that the marriage system – in particular polygyny – is one contributing factor to the lack of development in this region.Expand