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Monogamous societies present a surge in economic productivity because monogamous men are able to save and invest their resources due to having fewer children.
Polygynous societies have a higher concentration of men investing into methods of mating with women, whereas monogamous men invest more into their families and other related institutions.
Polyandry is illegal in virtually every state of the world.
A 1930s study of the Mende in the west African state of Sierra Leone concluded that a plurality of wives is an agricultural asset, since a large number of women makes it unnecessary to employ wage laborers.
Goody says, "The reasons behind polygyny are sexual and reproductive rather than economic and productive" (199), arguing that men marry polygynously to maximize their fertility and to obtain large households containing many young dependent males." Polygyny also served as "a dynamic principle of family survival, growth, security, continuity, and prestige," especially as a socially approved mechanism that increases the number of adult workers immediately and the eventual workforce of resident children.
Scholars have argued that in farming systems where men do most of the agriculture work, a second wife can be an economic burden rather than an asset.
Polygyny is considered an economic advantage in many rural areas.
In some cases, the economic role of the additional wife enables the husband to enjoy more leisure.