Some of these guys are very active. One old toothless sheik has a very young son from a very young new wife. While I suspect it is possible that there might be more men on the job, nobody is particularly surprised by this. A local mayor mentioned in passing that he had three wives and fourteen kids. He also said, perfunctorily, that he was getting married next week. When I pressed him on the fact that he didn’t seem that excited, he explained that he was just marrying his sister in law. His brother had died and somebody had to take care of her. He got the job to keep it all in the family.
The extended family is one of the pillars of the polygamy. We tend to project the system into the American context of a nuclear family just with a couple additional women. That is not really how it works here. It is more of a welfare system married (literally) to a system of tribal or dynastic alliances. Tribal affiliation is the key to success for individuals. You can be born into a tribe or you can marry into a tribe and if you are particularly clever you can marry into up to four tribes. This both complicates and simplifies genealogy because after a few generations there are lots of overlaps, so you have fewer family lines but a lot more permutations among them.
Just out of curiosity, have there been any scholastic papers comparing and contrasting historical LDS polygamy with contemporary Islamic polygamy? ..bruce..