Is there a link between polygamy and war? The Economist explores (might be paywalled): Men in South Sudan typically marry as often as their wealth — often measured in cattle — will allow. Perhaps 40 percent of marriages are polygamous. “In [our] culture, the more family you have, the more people respect you,” says William, a young IT specialist in search of his second wife. Few South Sudanese see the connection between these matrimonial customs and the country’s horrific civil war. If you ask them the reason for the violence, locals will blame tribalism, greedy politicians, weak institutions and perhaps the oil wealth which gives warlords something to fight over. All true, but not the whole story. Wherever it is widely practised, polygamy (specifically polygyny, the taking of multiple wives) destabilises society, largely because it is a form of inequality which creates an urgent distress in the hearts, and loins, of young men. If a rich man has a Lamborghini, that does not mean that a poor man has to walk, for the supply of cars is not fixed. By contrast, every time a rich man takes an extra wife, another poor man must remain single. If the richest and most powerful 10 percent of men have, say, four wives each, the bottom 30 percent of men cannot marry. Young men will take desperate measures to avoid this state. A non-paywalled, syndicated source for the article.
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