Date of Graduation

Spring 5-27-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Alessandra Cassar

Second Advisor

Yaniv Stopnitzsky


Competition and cooperation in polygynous households have both been widely documented across various disciplines. There is contradictory evidence as to whether these interpersonal dynamics produce better or worse outcomes for the household. This study uses a competitiveness game and a series of dictator games to measure competition and cooperation within households and between marriage types. Results show that there are key differences between monogamy and polygyny. Monogamous women compete less with their husbands than stranger and less in comparison to polygynous women. Monogamous spouses are more likely to forgo economic opportunities than polygynous spouses and have a greater preference for egalitarian resource allocations. Poly spouses maximize resources more often, even if it leads to disadvantageous intra-household inequality. Co-wife rivalry is rife: Junior wives compete more with senior wives than any other opponent, and both show high levels of spite and selfishness with respect to their co-wife. Education and wealth related variables mitigate the variation in behavior between the marriage types and sexes, suggesting that larger socioeconomic factors are just as important in outcomes for households.