A recurrent criticism cropping up in the discussion on Egan’s New York Times article is that polygamy inevitably creates “Lost Boys.” These are young men that get kicked out of a polygamous community to reduce competition for a resource in short supply –that of marriage partners. One commenter put it this way:
A simple polygamous example involves 6 people:
one man has 3 wives
two men have none
In this model, one man’s gain is another man’s loss. I would like to explore, through some preliminary statistical analysis, why this isn’t an adequate model for 19th century Mormonism, but it may be relevant to contemporary FLDS. I say “may” because I do not have enough data about the FLDS to make a judgment. I can, however, address whether the criticisms lobbied at them apply to 19th century Mormonism.