This kind of marriage structure concentrates the wealth and resources of all the brothers into one family, and also concentrates their parents' land and wealth.
Polygyny, on the other hand, rewards males who have access to greater wealth and resources than others.
In fact, cultures that practice some form of polygamy outnumber monogamous cultures by the hundreds [ref].
Some critics suggest that the Western practice of frequent divorce and remarrying represents a form of serial polygamy, though most anthropologists consider it serial monogamy -- no one gets married to more than one person at one time.
On the popular HBO drama "Big Love," Bill Paxton plays a man with three wives who live next door to each other and share a backyard.
So polygamy isn't just on fictional TV, but are any of these portrayals accurate?
The line between a polyamorous family and a polygamist family is a fine one.
Although broad generalizations always have exceptions, polyamorists tend to have communal, liberal views, while polygamists generally come from conservative religious backgrounds.
If a successful man has many wives, he can pass on his genes more often.
The Amazon Zoe tribe is a notable example of this practice.
Polygamy is often confused with polyamory and bigamy.
Polyamory is the concept of being in love with more than one person at one time.
Polygamists practice polyamory, but polyamorists don't necessarily practice polygamy.