The game theory of marriage as a market

Gary Becker was right you know.

So, on the Turkish, Syrian border, where’s there’s a lot more Syrian women as refugees than there are men, Turkish men are taking second, third and even fourth wives (allowed in Islam, of course, but not a legal marriage in Turkish law). A surplus of women leads to polygamy, just as polyandry happens where there is a shortage (although rare, polyandry does indeed happen).

So, what to do about it?

The women’s rights activist explains a worrying trend: “Local women are anxious. The constant fear of losing their husbands puts a lot of pressure on them. Domestic violence, threats, psychological pressure and abuse from their spouses have increased. We notice a rise in mental illness, especially depression, but the topic is not being addressed by the authorities.”

She says her organisation tries to assist Turkish and Syrian women: “We do house visits where we discuss this issue with the women here. We try to convince them to put the blame where it belongs. In order to counter this male opportunism, women from both sides of the border need to stick together.”

Quite: all as standard game theory would suggest. Cooperate to increase the power of those in surplus: but you’ve always got the problem of what to do about the defectors. You can get to this purely from the standard prisoner’s dilemma example.

Gary Becker really was right, marriage really is a market governed by the same rules as others.

8 comments on “The game theory of marriage as a market

  1. A surplus of women leads to polygamy, just as polyandry happens where there is a shortage (although rare, polyandry does indeed happen).

    I kind of doubt that is true. Britain had a fair female surplus after WW1 and yet no de jure or de facto explosion in polygamy. The one place polyandry is known to exist it seems to have more to do with the fact that Tibet is terribly marginal for agriculture and so families have to stop the subdivision of the family farm.

    Quite: all as standard game theory would suggest. Cooperate to increase the power of those in surplus: but you’ve always got the problem of what to do about the defectors. You can get to this purely from the standard prisoner’s dilemma example.

    So wives have become cheaper and hence easier to acquire – even unto the second and third Spouse. Thus husbands can beat the crap out of their first wives knowing that they have some comely young penniless Syrian refugee bint to fall back on. So to speak. It may well be good politics to encourage women to form a Union to police male sexuality – as Christianity has encouraged them to do so – but it ain’t going to work. Not unless the women on the Turkish side of the border do something to look after the women on the Syrian side.

    After all, no one hates a 20-something girl like a 30-something woman.

  2. Prisoners’ Dilemma needs to be repeated often for the prisoners to stick together. Even in an easy divorce setting this won’t happen often enough to build the female solidarity.

    And they’re getting a few more comely Islamic wenches every day from Girochdale and Brum.

  3. That’s all very well, but why is India taking so long to get rid of the dowry system? They’ve been running a surplus of men for quite a while now.

  4. Remember everyone, Britain is the most sexist country in the world, the UN said do. Don’t get distracted by minor stuff like this!

  5. Andrew M – “That’s all very well, but why is India taking so long to get rid of the dowry system? They’ve been running a surplus of men for quite a while now.”

    The caste system. A husband of good caste is rare – and worth paying for. Women attempt to marry up in a big way.

    The surplus of men gets pushed down to the lower castes.

  6. Now does this make the Nora Batty effect* easier or harder? Does multiple wives reduce the required effort to make happy wives or just more work cuz you’ve more of them to please? At least it ought to be easier to slip out the house for a beer while they indulge in talkathons.

    *”Social scientists have concluded that the secret to a happy life for older men is keeping their wife happy.”

  7. Nobel prize or game theory, I don’t think you have to think very far to see how this ends.

    Arrive in war zone, get hitched with officer class terrorist.
    Get pregnant, or not get pregnant, same result: shithead takes second wife.
    Get passed around his pals.
    Get farmed out to people he owes favours to.
    Rented to anyone with money.
    Unprotected prostitute.
    Dead in a ditch.

    Unless you have very strong close family ties or the very rare skills of the grande horizontale, of course.

  8. Didn’t the USSR have this problem at the end of WW2. Huge number of dead men made for quite an imbalance when peace broke out

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