The objective is to study the influence of polygamous versus monogamous marriage on the mental health of adolescents in an Israeli Bedouin population. Pupils aged 11-18 years attending schools in Bedouin Arab communities in southern Israel were asked to complete a demographic questionnaire and a panel of psychological instruments measuring competence and behavioral problems, anxiety and depression. Findings were compared between pupils of families with one wife and pupils of families with more than one wife. The population comprised 406 pupils of mean age 14.5 years; 56% were female. Fifty-three percent were from polygamous marriages and 47% from monogamous marriages. After allowing for the influence of socioeconomic factors, there were no differences between offspring of polygamous marriages and those of monogamous marriages for any of the psychological scales. When polygamy is the accepted practice in a particular social milieu, it does not have a deleterious psychological effect on adolescents.
- Mental health