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Polygyny and African Couple Research


Speizer, Ilene S. & Yates, A. (1998). Polygyny and African Couple Research. Population Research and Policy Review, 17(6), 551-570.


Fertility and family planning research has recently begun to focus on couples, rather than solely on women. High levels of polygyny in sub-Saharan Africa create two interesting problems for couple analyses. First, some men match with multiple wives in a given sample. Hence observations of a dependent variable that are a function of the responses from a polygynous man are not statistically independent. To correct for this, we propose that researchers use the method of generalized estimating equations. The second problem occurs when survey questions do not properly account for men having multiple partners. Variables constructed from such questions may contain error. Until better data are available, we propose that researchers randomly select a wife for each polygynous man to reduce the effects of this error. We illustrate these ideas by studying the determinants of couples having innovative family planning behaviors and attitudes in Niger.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Population Research and Policy Review


Speizer, Ilene S.
Yates, A.