Abstract

In this paper I examine the effect of polygyny on aggregate reproductive behavior. I argue that within countries there exist different polygyny regimes, each exhibiting a unique reproductive pattern. Using the 1988/1989 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS1) data, I identify three distinct regimes: low-polygyny, mid polygyny, and high-polygyny regimes. The results of the bivariate and multivariate analyses reveal strong differences in reproductive preferences and behaviors across polygyny regimes. High-polygyny regimes, for instance, maintain a value orientation that favors and encourages high reproductive performance. The force of this pronatalism operates equally for men and women; but whereas men in this regime attain their reproductive goals by marrying multiple wives, women attain theirs by maximizing their reproductive capabilities. This maximization occurs through early initiation of sexual/reproductive activity, universal marriage and minimal interruption of marriage, nonuse of contraception within a union, and a positive attitude toward high fertility.

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