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January 9, 2005

The Theory of Spousal Economics (TSE)

Off the topic: Alhamdulillah, the Islamic Relief Tsunami Relief Dinner was held tonight. By the blessings of Allah, we were able to raise over $230,000 to be used for weapons of mass salvation for our Muslim and Adamic brethren in that area of the world. May Allah reward all those who donated and helped out in any way for the dinner with the best of this world and especially with the best of the hereafter.

So I had the priviledge of having lunch with Atif Jaleel (and also that rascal Hasan Ali) this past Friday… recall that the last time I had lunch with Mr. Jaleel, the benvolent yet scorned-upon-by-ignorant-females Theory of Wife Demotion (TWD) was developed to enlighten the masses.  (If you missed it: Theory of Wife Demotion) Many of those who have not been blessed with the eye of clarity found much fault with it; there were also quite many who praised it for its compassion and wisdom. When I heard such praise and censure, I was reminded of the great Imam Malik, who asked his students what the people were saying after he published the Muwatta. His students responded that some people were praising it, others were criticizing and condemning it. Upon hearing this, Imam Malik said, “These are the signs of truth (tilka `alaamat al-haqq). Certainly, the TWD is not even an atom compared to the Muwatta… but anyway, moving on:

The Theory of Spousal Economics (TSE) is essentially the companion to the TWD–it is like raita to biryani: it cools off the fiery taste with its coolness, yet adds a succulent level of flavor that completes the meal. The TSE, when combined with the TWD, leads to certain flawless and timeless truths that will be described shortly. This is what happens when an Economics major who’s now withering away in med school has too much time on his hands.

The following explanation and commentary on the TSE assumes one has read the TWD beforehand. It also requires a certain level of understanding of basic macroeconomics, in terms of aggregate supply and aggregate demand curves. As the preceding graph indicates, quantity is shown on the x-axis and price is shown on the y-axis. The supply curve basically shows that as price increases, suppliers are willing to produce more product. The demand curve shows that as price decreases, consumers are willing to purchase more product. The equilibrium point is the price at which the two curves meet; in other words, it is beneficial for both the consumer and producer to buy and sell, respectively, at that price. If the price is too high, no one will buy; if the price is too low, everyone will want to buy but producers will have no incentive to sell their product at such a low price.

Let us assume then that the number of single women is represented by the supply curve (S1). The demand for wives is represented by the demand curve (D1). Now what happens at the first equilibrium point (shown as the point where D1 and S1 meet in the graph above) is that such a marriage takes place at the equilibrium price. The transaction is made and everyone goes home happy. After the marriage, the supply curve now shifts left (since there’s one less single female on the market) to S2. Accordingly, the demand curve also shifts to the left (to D2) since there is less demand for the product. The point at which D2 and S2 meet is the new equilibrium point: neatly enough, the price remains the same, thus ensuring that future marriages will continue to occur at the same price as before.

One of the drawbacks with the unbridled and unrestrained use of the TWD is that demand will soon outstrip supply if not carefully monitored. If a laissez-faire market is allowed with no system of checks and balances, absolute economic chaos will ensue. The graph above represents such a situation, wherein a man has decided to marry 4 wives. As in the second graph, the demand will shift accordingly from D1 to D2. However, the problem arises in the supply curve, since the shift from S1 to S2 is now four times greater than the shift seen in the second graph. This imbalanced shift in the supply curve (since 4 women are being taken off the market now) will not only lead to a decrease in quantity demanded (shown as Q2)… but it will also cause an INCREASE in price from P1 to P2. This will force future purchases (marriages) at a higher and higher price (since there’s less supply and the remaining single women become more and more of a precious commodity… though you’d think that if those women that are still around at this point aren’t even worth the original price, let alone the new raised price…) until prices hit the ceiling, the market collapses, and price reaches a point where there is zero demand. This would not only collapse this market, but also destroy the wedding item-mongerers’ (catering, botique bazaars, etc) markets as well.

Therefore, this leaves us with quite a dilemma: the benevolence and mercy of the TWD seemingly stands at odds with the economic crisis it creates. This is where the conclusion of the TSE is here to restore order to this apparent disruption in the Force. The solution is similar to the Nash equilibrium theory that won the famous John Nash (from the movie A Beautiful Mind) a Nobel prize: instead of everyone going for the blonde and effectively blocking each other from any measure of success, everyone ought to instead go for her friends and be content with a lessened measure of success. In other words, if each person acts in moderation and thinks about the welfare of his fellow brothers, then everyone will be happy.

Therefore, the logical economic conclusion of the TSE is that each man ought to limit himself to two wives. Sure, the four wives idea sounds great on paper, but unfortunately, it creates too much economic disruption… and you’d only be hurting (especially financially) your fellow brothers, making you a bad guy for life. This is why moderation is key, and considering that ours is a religion of moderation, sticking to the middle path is a priority. This is why two wives is the way to go. As seen in the graph above, this will only drive up the price very slightly, thus taking into account such factors as inflation and allowing the market (weddings) to continue. Also, it will create competition and motivation for invention amongst the remaining firms and consumers in the market to adjust either the supply or demand curve to their benefit, respectively… and competition is always a good thing.

At the same time, all the benefits and mercies of the TWD can still be enjoyed by all parties involved. And that’s crucial, isnt it: to practice the TWD without creating economic chaos?

So I guess my final piece of advice about the TSE is as follows: the first wife ought to be drop-dead gorgeous, and the second ought to make one hell of a kefta kabob.


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  1. Also overheard during the same lunch:
    KR: Hey…wanna be wahhabi for the weekend?
    Atif: NO WAY! Where is the fun in that? I’d rather be loose for the weekend.
    Points taken from lunch experience with KR and Atif:
    1) KR is not so cool
    2) Atif is very cool, much cooler than KR
    3) KR can’t defend himself in front of Atif’s incessant bashing …thus…Atif is Kamran’s cryptonite.
    4) Hasan is very awesome
    5) Family-Style Lunch at Ceder’s produces way too much food for two mortal men (Hasan and Atif) and one fraud (KR).
    [note to self – if KR is coming to lunch bring another man to make up for KR’s deficiencies as a human being]

  2. salaam.  haha! funny stuff. I can’t believe you drew SvD graphs.
    With regards to the Nash Equilibrium, that isn’t the correct solution.  If each guy assumes his friends will go for the blonde girl’s friends, each guy will individually think they have an uncontested chance with the blonde.  So you’re right back where you started from – everyone going for the blonde girl.  That isn’t the NE strategy.
    A strategy which yields a mutually beneficial outcome isn’t necessarily due to a (pure strategy) Nash Equilibrium.  And the Nash Equilibrium doesn’t imply pairs of strategy that are mutually beneficial for the players.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    hehe nigga u did it again…i feel honored tht i actually got a preview of dis whole thing at da tsunami dinner…u still owe me lunch…n yeh i no i still owe u $30…ill pay u $10 a month….

  4. I think if you look at all the trends in the short run, you’re gonna be thinking that eligible chicks are too low in demand and that the ones that are available cost too much. But in the long run, it’s gonna even out. More girls are gonna graduate and finish school and more will get picked up. More girls will get involved in MSAs and more will get hitched. More time waiting will help women get hooked up with guys from outside communities through family friends or by working for MSA National events like ISNA and such. Naturally the long run aggregate supply curve will become a straight vertical line and factors like guys who actually marry more than one girl won’t affect the supply.

  5. Anonymous permalink

    You never stop to amuse me at how much controversy youre able to create…
    And what the hell did Saqib just say? lol Nigga been studying hardcore

  6. Anonymous permalink


    While I only have had two years of macroeconomics, never have I heard or seen the concept of supply and demand explained through the concept of women. Neither have I heard of the word transaction reffered to the number of marriages. I find the concept clever but remotely insulting since I myself am of the female gender and would not like to be referred to as a “good” or part of a “transaction.”  You stated that “it will also cause an INCREASE in price from P1 to P2. This will force future purchases (marriages) at a higher and higher price (since there’s less supply and the remaining single women become more and more of a precious commodity…” So how is it logical that each man should have two wives? If the marriage cost is in the long-run increasing should it not discourage another marriage? In fact, no one really wants to marry a blonde. So the supply should be narrowed specifically to eligible women. Thus, the LRAS curve of eligiblale women will not be affected because they already are so rare to find. The LRAS curve for women in general however will decline. The odds of finding two eligable women for one man is pretty low, considering the supply for eligable women is also low. So, LOGICALLY, it only makes sense for a man to settle with only one woman. (especially if you are thinking Muslim women)  The world would just otherwise be in “economic” chaos. Well I could have made no sense at all, you are the economics major. Your post was quite interstingly structured and full of humor. A crazy idea backed up with facts. Not many people can do that. I wonder if you were ever in debate.

  7. hahah, good comeback… damnit, dont use economic theory against me.
    but, in return, all i can say is that yes, if the theory is followed over time, the price will be driven up gradually over the years. however, the first and greatest theory of all time, TWD takes precedence over the TSE, since the TSE is meant to balance out the TWD. in a perfect world with unlimited resources (thus creating a vertical supply curve that is extremely shifted to the right, representing that at any price eligible women could be found) the TWD is the only theory needed. however, we unfortunately live in the real world and thus must make concessions to the TWD… that’s why the TSE comes into play.
    anyway, that’s just me bs-ing. thanks for taking it in good humor and commenting.

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