Societies where monogamy is the norm are safer than polygamous ones, new research has revealed.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that polygamous cultures have higher levels of robbery, rape, kidnapping, fraud and murder.
Professor Joseph Henrich, one of the report’s authors, warned that the crimes were primarily driven by pools of unmarried men, a result of some men taking multiple wives.
He said: “Our findings suggest that institutionalised monogamous marriage provides greater net benefits for society at large by reducing social problems that are inherent in polygamous societies.”
He added: “The scarcity of marriageable women in polygamous cultures increases competition among men for the remaining unmarried woman.
“The greater competition increases the likelihood men in polygamous communities will resort to criminal behaviour to gain resources and women.”
The study, entitled The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage, was published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
A polygamous family in America is currently trying to overturn their state’s law against bigamy.
Kody Brown and his four ‘wives’ claim that Utah’s bigamy law is unconstitutional because it violates their right to privacy.
Their lawyers are using Supreme Court rulings, such as a case from 2003 when judges ruled that homosexual acts in private were protected by the US constitution, to argue against the law.
In November a judge in Canada upheld the country’s ban on polygamous marriages, but the case is likely to be appealed.
Canada legalised same-sex marriage in 2005 and polygamist supporters say it is therefore unfair to ban polygamy.