Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 205–216 | Cite as

Polygamy, economic security and well-being of retired Zulu migrant workers

  • Valerie Møller
  • Gary John Welch


Why does polygamy still persist when changing circumstances challenge the conventional wisdom that polygamy and numerous progeny provide social security in old age? To answer this question an in-depth questionnaire survey of 253 retired Zulu male migrants resident in rural areas examined the relationship between polygamy, economic security, and quality of life after return migration. Results indicate that polygamous marital status contributes only indirectly to feelings of enhanced well-being relative to economic advantage and good health. It is concluded that despite changing economic circumstances a traditionally-oriented polygamous head of a Zulu household may still expect to feel optimistic about his social and spiritual security in old age. Further research is required to explore Zulu women's views regarding the longer-term advantages of polygamy throughout the life course.

Key Words

polygamy quality of life economic security retirement return migration Zulus 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerie Møller
    • 1
  • Gary John Welch
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Social and Development StudiesUniversity of NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Social Work DepartmentUniversity of NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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