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Polyandry And Its Discontents: Land Tenure, Marriage, And Fertility In Historical Kyirong

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Chapter Summary

Tibet's land tenure and taxation system presented a matrix of structural factors that influenced family formation processes and fertility. Specifically, a taxpayer household was granted the right to till a set amount of government land and to keep a percentage of the produce providing they fulfilled their tax obligations. The tax basis held by a household was heritable, but the amount of arable land was fixed and could not be expanded or contracted in response to needs generated by a changing family size. A common solution was fraternal polyandry, a practice that effectively prevented the division of assets by keeping brothers together so they could function as a single productive unit under one roof. In the case of Kyirong during the middle of the twentieth century, the childbearing contribution of women who never married into taxpayer households tipped the demographic balance in favor of population growth.

Keywords: family formation; fertility; fraternal polyandry; Kyirong; land tenure; taxation system; taxpayer household; Tibet



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