Effective Polygyny in the United States: Adolescent Precursors

Siobhan Reilly, Mills College
Eirik Evenhouse, Mills College

This paper examines the extent and correlates of effective polygyny in contemporary American society. The level of effective polygyny (usually defined as the ratio of variance in male reproductive success to variance of female reproductive success) is a potentially important determinant of the level of resources that a society devotes to its children. Measuring effective polygyny in American society is novel. The concept is usually applied to other species. When applied to human beings, they are typically ethnic subgroups in developing countries. We treat adolescents’ relationships and sexual behaviors as precursors of reproductive success. Data are drawn from the Add Health Survey. We decompose the adolescent population into a variety of subgroups, in an effort to identify some of the correlates of our measure of effective polygyny. We are particularly interested in correlates considered to be predictive of paternal investment in children.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 142: Emerging Knowledge about Sexual Behavior in Diverse Settings