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An elderly cultivator, with several wives and likely several young male children, benefits from having a much larger workforce within his household.
By the combined efforts of his young sons and young wives, he may gradually expand his cultivation and become more prosperous.
This favoured polygamous marriages in which men sought to monopolize the production of women "who are valued both as workers and as child bearers." Goody however, observes that the correlation is imperfect, and also describes more male dominated though relatively extensive farming systems such as those that exist in much of West Africa, particularly the savannah region, where polygamy is desired more for the production of sons whose labor is valued." Goody's observation regarding African male farming systems is discussed and supported by anthropologists Douglas R. Burton in "Causes of Polygyny: Ecology, Economy, Kinship, and Warfare", where the authors note: "Goody (1973) argues against the female contributions hypothesis.
He notes Dorjahn's (1959) comparison of East and West Africa, showing higher female agricultural contributions in East Africa and higher polygyny rates in West Africa, especially in the West African savannah, where one finds especially high male agricultural contributions.
The status of a mistress is not that of a wife, and any children born of such relationships were and some still are considered illegitimate and subject to legal disadvantage.
Throughout the African polygyny belt stretching from Senegal in the west to Tanzania in the east, as many as a third to a half of married women are in polygynous unions, and polygyny is found especially in West Africa.
With a large network of in-laws, these men have the ties they need to compensate for other economic shortages.
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.
) is the most common and accepted form of polygamy, entailing the marriage of a man with several women.
Most countries that permit polygamy are Muslim-majority countries in which polygyny is the only form permitted.