‘I Should Have Married One Woman’: Bargaining Dynamics in Polygamous and Monogamous Households in Tamale, Northern Ghana

Emmanuel Nyamekye


Sen (1990) indicates that when a person is perceived by household members to be making significant contributions to the overall wealth of the household, agreed solutions are more likely to favour that person. However, perceived contributions have to be distinguished from actual contributions. He notes that the perceived contributions of a person can be important in predisposing cooperative outcomes to favour the perceived contributor. In fact, the ‘winner’ in one round would not only gain greater immediate benefit but also be better placed and have greater bargaining power in the future (Sen, 1990). Sen’s ideas about perceived and actual contribution response are used as an analytical tool to investigate the gender implications of women’s and men’s contributions to family welfare in both polygamous and monogamous households in Tamale, in the northern region of Ghana. Sen (1990), it should be noted, places emphasis on monetary earnings in his cooperative conflict model. However, perception biases against non-monetary earnings, which shall be referred to here as ‘reproductive roles’ will be explored in this study.

Keywords: actual, households, informal, monogamous, perceived, polygamous.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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