An article from Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

Participants in the study are playing the dictator game (Photo: Sosina Bezu/UMB)

Spouses in arranged marriages are more generous

Spouses in arranged marriages in Southern Ethiopia show more cohesion and are more generous with each other than spouses in love marriages.

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Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

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Formerly, only men were owners of land in Ethiopia, and women were considered men's property.

Two researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Science (UMB) has studied 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.

They 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 and marriage by abduction.

"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," says Holden.

Rusty love?
One of the couples who participated in the study. In the beginning of the game, a flip of a coin decides if you will be the dictator. (Foto: Sosina Bezu/UMB)

He suggests that the reasons are that parents are good at finding the right partners for their children, and that social conditions  are better adjusted when parents choose spouses. 

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 not yet research results to prove this," he says.

Equally generous

The researchers also thought that women in general would be more generous than their men. 

­"This also proved to be wrong. We found that men and women are roughly equally generous,"  says Holden.

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.

Translated by: Kristine Løwe

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