Senegal: Polygamy causes 1-in-5 young men to lack a wife

Imagine a society with 4 single young females for every 5 single young males.

Senegal is such a place.

Its marriage market is akin to a pyramid scheme, with older men taking younger wives, depriving lots of young men from marriage. This probably weakens the country by discouraging productivity in one’s most energetic years.

How Many Young Females Do Older
Polygamist Males Absorb in Senegal?

Steve Sailer posted in passing that 48% of rural Senegalese men over-40 had multiple wives. These numbers seem fantastic: Wouldn’t this imply that half of men are wifeless? It was then pointed out that this applied to over-40s only — Young females were the extra wives.
Using IDB data, I find this:

Over 40
917,000 males
1,141,000 females

2,349,000 males
2,552,000 females

If 48% of males over 40 have an average of :
A — 1.25 extra young wives, that would take away 550,000 young females, or 21.6% of the nation’s supply of young-females. Leaving 347,000 young males single [14.8% of young males].
B — 1.50 extra young wives, that would take away 660,000 young females, or 25.9% of the nation’s supply of young-females. Leaving 457,000 young males single [19.5% of young males].
C — 2.00 extra young wives, that would take away 880,000 young females, or 34.5% of the nation’s supply of young-females. Leaving 677,000 young males single [28.8%].

Now, the CIA says 58% of the population in Senegal is rural; presumably the rate in cities is lower — However, the above also presumes that all males under 40 have a hard cap of 1.0 wives, which is impossible. These effects may cancel each other out.

This suggests that the actual number of “extra [young] wives” is between 1.25 and 1.5 (‘A’ and ‘B’ above) — If so, then as many as one-in-five young males in Senegal lack the opportunity to marry by this setup: There aren’t enough available females for them.

Interestingly, China has the same problem in the same proportion, I understand (Among the marriage-age, 5 males for every 4 females). In that case it is caused by sex-selective-abortion rather than polygamy.

Senegal’s Marriage Pyramid Scheme
Senegal’s polygamy is a kind of pyramid scheme. The only reason a majority of males are not deprived from marriage is because there are so many young females around. Half the population is still under 18.

Despite this lopsided age-structure, a large share of young men go wifeless even now, until they too get old enough to grab a younger wife. My analysis suggests 1-in-5 will have no access to any wife at all until they become middle-aged. (Indeed, Senegalese males’ average age at marriage is 29 vs. 20 for women).

Polygamy Devours Itself
As with all pyramids schemes, eventually some group of people loses. As Senegal’s age-structure gets older, the system will break down. (Does that sound familiar?). If the polygamy-rate stay as is, the already-high 20% wifeless rate for young males will get higher; male average marriage age will then push into the 30s.

Steve Sailer has pointed out this inherent flaw with polygamy. Absent some kind of rigid feudal system, it eventually devours itself, and will in Senegal too, as population evens out: A majority of young men in their most productive years, forcibly wifeless? Why would they work hard? What incentive is there? Why not relax and coast through life instead?

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12 Responses to Senegal: Polygamy causes 1-in-5 young men to lack a wife

  1. Hail says:

    Why Monogamy is Superior to Polygamy.

    There is a proposal to legalize polygamy in Canada. (You knew it was coming).

    The anti-polygamy camp has argued as follows:

    …Polygamy results in surplus males with no prospects of marriage. That in turn causes all sorts of problems. What’s more, polygamy tilts society towards viewing women as property for acquisition, and also decreases investment in children.”

    “Heinrich [the researcher] infers…no less than that the invention of monogamy was the first step in building our modern, democratic society. …Those societies that adopt the most effective cultural practices are successful, and they dominate and eventually swallow up the less successful societies around them.

    The Zeitgeist being what it is, rational arguments will be ignored and the tyranny of “tearing down the walls of bigotry and discrimination” will in time win out. For now.

  2. Hail says:

    Another point of interest:

    “Kanazawa has also shown that polygamy is linked to IQ. It seems that, even controlling for other factors, nations with higher average IQ are less acceptant of polygamy. He suggests that, the better people are at abstract reasoning, the more likely they are to reject polygamy as unworkable for modern societies.”

  3. Hail says:

    One more quote from the research of the Canadian anti-polygamists:

    In India and China, where male-biased sex selection has resulted in more men than women, researchers found “bachelor bands that compete ferociously and engage in aggressive, violent and anti-social activities.”

    China’s one-child policy resulted in the number of “surplus” men nearly doubling, along with the crime rates. In a recent study, researchers there concluded that for every 0.01 increase in sex ratio, property and violent crimes rise by three per cent.

  4. jewamongyou says:

    Those extra men simply migrate to the West and marry white women (when possible). Polygamy is one mechanism by which excess males are produced. Those excess males will, in a borderless world, naturally gravitate to more hospitable societies. Far from being a reason for them to be lazy, this situation gives them motivation to work hard – so that they can leave for the West. In the process, they also bring down the societies they migrate to. This is a powerful argument to stop immigration from Africa.

    • Hail says:

      It’s an interesting question, whether polygamy would motivate or demotivate the “excess males”.

      Perhaps you’re right, in a world where an excess-male can “Go [to the] West, Young Man”, it could be motivating. “Polygamy-induced brain drain”?

      But, then, what about on a desert island society practicing polygamy, with no chance of emigration?

  5. Pingback: Fleeing Polygamy: Senegalese Young Men Flock to Europe | Hail To You

  6. Anonymous says:

    I find polygamy revolting. If I were a man however, I might think differently. Apparently some Tibetan women are polygamous. Interesting, but still doesn’t appeal to me. Two is company, three (or more) first thing in the morning, is a crowd. No thanks. It depends on the culture, and beggars can’t be choosers, but in an ideal world what would you go for?

  7. Karimah says:

    The idea of migrants marrying women on the West is wrong. Now, men from Senegal migrate to the West to be able to succeed on the Senegalese marriage market – women simply prefer emmigrants, considering them wealthier. Even men who marry women in the West, are getting local wive(s) later – marriage unions are created or at least the choice directed by families, not by individuals.
    The article itself does not consider other important factors: levirate, which causes men marrying widows of their brothers (mostly absorbing them to an already existing marriage) and divorced women which are getting married too. More than 99% of Senegalese divorced women re-marry. Almost all of them are marrying married men. So, here is plenty of women entering into polygamous unionst, who are not that “young-brides” which would suit young grooms…

  8. Pingback: Is polygamy better than monogamy? « Traditional Christianity

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  10. Brant Hisey says:

    Appreciating the tenacity you put into your blog and extensive information you provide.

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