When we think of polygamy, we often imagine men with multiple wives, a la Sister Wives, Big Love, etc. However, according to a recent study, men don’t get much out of this arrangement besides massive egos. In fact, it’s women who should have multiple husbands as we’re the ones who benefit from it more, it seems. Hey, it’s worth considering…
- Men should be competing for women rather than the other way around. The study, titled “Unpacking mating success and testing Bateman’s principles in a human population,” was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It posited that while men produce millions and millions of sperm and can seemingly procreate forever, women have a limited number of viable eggs. Therefore, if men want to successfully procreate, they should be competing for women since there’s plenty of chances for them and not as many for us.
- Bateman’s Principle was originally based on animals. However, the study focused on how the idea applied to humans. To do this, researchers focused on the marriages and offspring of the Pimbwe people in a remote village in East Africa. The Pimbwe are hunter-gatherers who are not only used to times of scarcity but also tend to be pretty polygamous, which made them the perfect study subjects.
- More than 2,000 couples were studied for two decades. After that time, the researchers compared male marriages, female marriages, and how many of their children survived. “We found that both men and women had more children the more years they were married (not surprisingly),” lead author Monique Borgerhoff Mulde explained to Theravive in an interview. “However, when we looked at the number of different individuals a person married over their lifetime the pattern diverged. While men with multiple spouses had a lower rate of producing children than men with fewer spouses, women with multiple spouses had a larger number of surviving children over their lifetime than women with fewer spouses.”
- Raising a family isn’t the only benefit of multiple marriages for women. Mulder posits that there’s also a financial benefit to a woman having multiple husbands as it makes economic hardship less likely and also means there’s a backup should one of the husbands become ill or otherwise unable to work. Makes sense to me!