Spouses in Arranged Marriages are more generous

Spouses in arranged marriages in Southern Ethiopia show more cohesion are more generous with each other than spouses in love marriages, according to new UMB research.

Spouses in arranged marriages are more generous

The study is part of a bigger research h project looking at the effects of new legislation from 2004, which led to both man and wife being listed as owners on joint land certificates which allocate property rights for land. Formerly, only men were owners of land, and women were considered men's property.


The dictator game
To arrive at the results of the study, the researchers used a method used in economic studies called ”The Dictator Game”. It involves giving the respondents, in this instance man and wife, a sum of money – independent of each other, and then asking to which extent they are willing to share the money with their spouses.  

In this way, Professor Stein Holden  and researcher  Sosina Bezu, both at the School of Economics and Business at UMB, tested how generous spouses are with each other and whether the generosity depend  on the type of marriage: traditionally arranged marriage, love marriage, marriage by abduction etc.

"The most surprising thing was that it seems like the spouses are more generous with each other in arranged marriages than in love marriages.  Our hypotheses was that love marriages would score highest, but this was not the case, said Holden.

Rusty love?
What could possibly be the reason?  

"This could be because parents are good at finding the right partners for their children, and that social conditions  are better adjusted when parents choose spouses for their children .  Love between  spouses in voluntary marriages can also die or fade away and affect the generosity between man and wife.  But this is speculation only. We have no research results to prove this," he said.

Equally generous
The researcher also started with a hypothesis that women in general would be more generous than their men.  

­"This also proved to be wrong. Here we found that men and women are roughly equally generous."  

Not surprisingly, the generosity was lowest in  marriages characterised as marriage by abduction, where the woman is abducted and seduced or raped and then married.


More in-depth reading:

Read a short Pdf-presentation of the study here: Generosity and social distance in dictator game field experiments with and without a face

Read an the research article about  the project in Pdf here: Generosity and social distance in dictator game field experiments with and without a face

The study is financed by the Research Council of Norway under the following headline:  Joint Certification and Household Land Allocation:  - Towards Empowerment or Marginalization?

Published 2. September 2014 - 10:20 - Updated 23. May 2017 - 19:35

Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

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