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 If polyamory is on the rise, there may be good economic reasons. But economist says arrangements are ‘tricky.’

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Three people hold hands together under sunlight. Image comes with text: Interest in polyamory has taken the media by storm in recent weeks. Data shows that acceptance of non-traditional family structures is on the rise. Photo by Getty Images

Social attitudes toward dating may be a factor driving interest in polyamory, but economic forces could also be playing a role, says Mindy Marks, associate professor of economics at Northeastern University. Recent news coverage of polyamory has shined a light on non-traditional relationships, such as “throuples.” While the practice still seems relatively marginal in the U.S., interest in polyamory (meaning multiple romantic relationships or sexual partners) appears to be on the rise — particularly among Gen Z. 

Reporting on the subject suggests that, as marriage rates continue to decline and the cost of living goes up, more and more people approve of non-traditional family arrangements, such as open marriages, to find companionship, pursue their careers and stay afloat financially. There’s no question that family structures have changed in recent decades, moving away from the traditional nuclear family (two parents and their dependent children) to encompass a more diverse set of relationships and living arrangements, Marks says. Look across the millennia, and it’s no different, she says.

Whatever the primary drivers are, Marks sees polyamory as having some economic basis. Northeastern Global News asked her to weigh in on the recent wave of headlines about polyamory, and on the status of the nuclear family in 2024.  

Read more at Northeastern Global News.

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