The fewer wives men have, the more they drink

Intriguingly, across the world the main social groups which practice polygyny do not consume alcohol. We investigate whether there is a correlation between alcohol consumption and polygynous/monogamous arrangements, both over time and across cultures. Historically, we find a correlation between the shift from polygyny to monogamy and the growth of alcohol consumption. Cross-culturally we also find that monogamous societies consume more alcohol than polygynous societies in the preindustrial world. We provide a series of possible explanations to explain the positive correlation between monogamy and alcohol consumption over time and across societies.

A paper exploring the relationship between polygyny and alcohol consumption, finding that from pre-industrial societies through modern-day Muslim and LDS societies, having more than one wife is correlated with drinking less or no alcohol.

As you might imagine their conclusion is of the correlation-but-not-causation sort, finding that both effects are brought on by changing economic circumstances. But it’s an interesting observation nonetheless.

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