Economic Analysis of the Family
Publish year 2003
FAMILY has been undergoing dramatic changes during recent years.
In richer countries, marriage and childbearing are occurring
much later in people's lives, and they are having fewer children.
There is more child-bearing outside marriage, more divorce and
more one parent families. In some poorer countries, fertility
has fallen sharply, while in others there has been little change.
Associated with these developments, there have been changes
in the ways in which family members interact with one another,
including support for elderly parents or children (e.g. payments
after divorce), and with markets.
The analysis in this book aims to improve our understanding
of how families and markets interact, why important aspects
of families have been changing in recent decades and how public
policy affects them. It is built on the idea that the standard
analytical methods of microeconomics, including the techniques
of constrained optimization, can help us to understand resource
allocation and the distribution of welfare within the family,
intergenerational transfers and transmission, family formation
and dissolution and household formation. It also aims to show
how economic theories of the family can help to guide and structure
empirical analyses of demographic and related phenomena (e.g.
labour supply and child support).
The book is intended for research students, social scientists
and policy makers who wish to learn how economists analyse family
issues. The analysis is relevant to family behaviour in rich
and poor countries.
Examples of studies that apply the theory are provided throughout
the book. This chapter outlines the main arguments of the book.