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Polygamy refers to having multiple spouses in a marriage (one-to-many).

Types of polygamy[edit | edit source]

Gender-based variations of these two include:

  • Polyandry: A person with multiple male spouses
  • Polygyny: A person with multiple female spouses

Humans are a moderately polygynous species. For this reason polygamy is much more common, and polyandry in fact very rare, hence most polygamy is actually polygyny.

Political consequences[edit | edit source]

A high prevalence of polygamous males can predict whether civil war is likely to occur within a country or not, according to an article in The Economist:

FEW South Sudanese see a link between their country’s horrific civil war and polygamy. Instead they blame greedy politicians or the tribe next door. Fair enough: corruption, weak institutions and tribalism all make violence more likely. But marital customs matter, too. Wherever polygamy is widely practised (in South Sudan, perhaps 40% of marriages involve multiple wives) turmoil tends to follow. The 20 most fragile states in the world are all somewhat or very polygamous. Polygamous nations are more likely to invade their neighbours. The polygamous regions of Haiti and Indonesia are the most turbulent. One London School of Economics study found a strong link between plural marriage and civil war. How come?[1]

Other related concepts[edit | edit source]

Polyamory refers to having multiple romantic/sexual partners of any sex, but not necessarily in a formal marriage (in fact such unions are not legally accepted as marriages), with potentially multiple men and women forming a sexually active union (many-to-many or one-to-many).

Polyamory is multiple loves, there may or may not be a marriage. Polygamy is multiple marriages, there may or may not be love.

—Joreth Innkeeeper

Monogamy refers to a "heteronormative" (i.e. normal male-female) one-to-one union.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]