Altruism, cooperation, and efficiency: Agricultural production in polygynous households

Richard Akresh, Joyce J. Chen, Charity T. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Altruism toward others is thought to aid cooperation, as the interdependence of utility functions helps to align incentives and reduce transaction costs. Experts provide a rigorous theoretical explanation for greater inefficiency in monogamous households compared to polygynous households. Furthermore, the analysis helps put into context the literature on failures of efficiency within the household and suggests a more nuanced view that social capital may not always enhance the scope for cooperation. They also model a game involving three players with differing degrees of altruism toward each other and show that stronger altruism can actually encourage players to choose a noncooperative strategy by increasing the utility that is obtained in the noncooperative equilibrium and, reducing both the gains to cooperation and the threat of punishment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-696
Number of pages36
JournalEconomic Development and Cultural Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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