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Polygamy, a Luxury Only the Rich Can Afford

By       Message Reza varjavand     Permalink
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An overwhelming majority of Americans think that polygamy is wrong, 91% according a recent poll published by U.S. News. If a similar survey were taken in a Muslim country like Iran, you would be surprised and even startled to read a similar statistic, given the fact that polygamy is permissible under Islamic law. Almost all recurring references to wife in Quran, Islam's holy book, are in the plural form, wives, signaling the legitimacy of polygamy if the men who contemplate it can afford to provide equal and adequate financial support for all of their would-be wives. It seems that polygamy is a privilege bestowed upon those who are economically well-off. Today, all Muslim countries, with the exception of Yemen, sanction polygamy.

While a monogamous relationship is based on mutual affection, polygamy seems more like a business transaction, especially if you consider the fact that the rich men who can afford it usually prefer younger, more fertile women. Polygamy can be thought of as the instrument through which rich men can exert their whimsical influence on the marriage market and protect their turf just like they do in financial markets by keeping a portfolio of diverse assets. And, just as diversification pays off in the investment market, it also pays off in the mating market. One can also surmise that a typical downtrodden woman, having no economic security and considered in many Islamic countries to be an economic burden to her family, does not mind polygamy. She would perhaps prefer to be one of the multiple wives of a millionaire, handsome or ugly, instead of being the only wife of a down-and-outer man like ".. !?

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Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago. He has been an avid participant in many professional organizations and active in (more...)

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