Navigation Links
Multiple husbands serve as child support and life insurance in some cultures says MU researcher

Marrying multiple husbands at the same time, or polyandry, creates a safety net for women in some cultures, according to a recent study by a University of Missouri researcher. Extra husbands ensure that women's children are cared for even if their fathers die or disappear. Although polyandry is taboo and illegal in the United States, certain legal structures, such as child support payments and life insurance, fill the same role for American women that multiple husbands do in other cultures.

"In America, we don't meet many of the criteria that tend to define polyandrous cultures," said Kathrine Starkweather, doctoral student in MU's Department of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Science. "However, some aspects of American life mirror polyandrous societies. Child support payments provide for offspring when one parent is absent. Life insurance allows Americans to provide for dependents in the event of death, just as secondary husbands support a deceased husband's children in polyandrous societies."

Starkweather and her co-author, Raymond Hames, professor of anthropology at the University of Nebraska, examined 52 cultures with traditions of polyandry from all continents except Europe. They found that similar conditions seemed to influence cultures toward polyandry. Males frequently outnumbered females in these cultures, as a result of high mortality prior to adulthood. Although males out-numbered females, they also were more likely to die in warfare or hunting and fishing accidents or to be absent for other economic reasons. Polyandrous cultures also tended to be small scale and egalitarian.

In approximately half of the cultures studied, the other husbands were closely related to the first husband, a practice with economic repercussions. In previously studied polyandrous cultures, especially those of Nepal, Tibet and India, inheritance traditions called for land to be divided evenly among male offspring after a parent's passing. That practice would have resulted in land being sub-divided into useless parcels too small to provide enough crops to feed a family. However, if several brothers married the same wife, the family farm would stay intact. In the small egalitarian cultures Starkweather studied land and property ownership was unusual. In these societies, younger brothers in the marriage often protected and provided food for the family in the absence of the older brother, who was often the primary husband.

"This research shows that humans are capable of tremendous variability and adaptability in their behaviors," said Starkweather. "Human marriage structures aren't written in stone; throughout history, people have adapted their societal norms to ensure the survival and well-being of their children."

Contact: Tim Wall
University of Missouri-Columbia

Related medicine news :

1. Scientists uncover multiple faces of deadly breast cancer
2. Experimental Pill for Multiple Sclerosis Shows Promise
3. Fish Oil Supplements Wont Help in Multiple Sclerosis: Study
4. Kessler Foundation scientist awarded $554,000 for multiple sclerosis employment research
5. Low-dose whole-body CT finds disease missed on standard imaging for patients with multiple myeloma
6. Multiple thought channels may help brain avoid traffic jams
7. Study shows benefit of new maintenance therapy for multiple myeloma
8. FDA Issues Multiple Sclerosis Drug Alert
9. Pot Might Help Ease Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
10. Lenalidomide prolongs disease control for multiple myeloma patients after stem cell transplant
11. Multiple sclerosis patients have lower risk of cancer: UBC-VCH research
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now ... and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings ... The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Oklahoma (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... both athletes and non-athletes recover from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures ... Oklahoma City area —Johnson is one of the first doctors to perform the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World Sickle Cell Observance Day. ... the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center of Marne, Michigan, has ... , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the red blood cells, which ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® of San Diego, CA is excited ... To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to and from their cancer treatments. ... highest quality of life and ongoing independence. Getting to and from medical treatments ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Investment Group (TGIG), has initiated cultivation and processing operations at its production facility, ... Pahrump, Nevada. , Puradigm is the manufacturer of a complete system of proactive ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016  Arkis BioSciences, a leading innovator in ... durable cerebrospinal fluid treatments, today announced it has ... is led by Innova Memphis, followed by Angel ... investors.  Arkis, new financing will accelerate the commercialization ... release of its in-licensed Endexo® technology. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Any dentist who has made ... the current process. Many of them do not even offer ... difficulties and high laboratory costs involved. And those who ARE ... at such a high cost that the majority of today,s ... Dr. Parsa Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions Inc. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... INDIANAPOLIS , June 23, 2016 Roche ... received 510(k) clearance for its Elecsys BRAHMS PCT (procalcitonin) ... severe sepsis or septic shock. With this clearance, Roche ... provide a fully integrated solution for sepsis risk assessment ... associated with bacterial infection and PCT levels in blood ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: