Researchers discover reasons for the global rise of monogamous cultures

Institutions, Organizations & Growth News 26.01.2012

A team of researchers, led by CIFAR’s Joseph Henrich, conducted a comprehensive study to explore why monogamous marriage had become the dominant cultural institution in developed nations. Most human societies have practiced polygamy in the past, and some still do.

The team discovered that monogamous culture has become a standard in many parts of the world because it leads to less social problems and greater net benefits for societies. Monogamy reduces the number of unmarried men competing for unmarried women, and in turn reduces social problems like crime, violence, poverty and gender inequality. The research team found that monogamous cultures make greater efforts toward achieving gender equality, and increasing long-term planning, and saving and child investments.

The study, titled “The puzzle of monogamous marriage” was published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

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