The Economics of the Family and Family Policy

The Economics of the Family and Family Policy

The Economics of the Family and Family Policy

The Economics of the Family and Family Policy

Synopsis

This comprehensive work offers a global approach to the modern economics of the family, family law and family policy. It looks at the economics of marriage; the demand for children; the economics of inheritance and inter-generational relationships.

Excerpt

Although much has been written on the economics of the family, very few works give a general overview of the subject and this has been my aim in this book. With such a broad field to cover, it has been necessary to drastically limit the topics broached. My purpose has been to analyse the family of today, that is, a family comprising a man and a woman who have married and who, in most cases, have children. Other types of family structure, such as the traditional extensive family or homosexual couples, are excluded not because economic analysis cannot be applied to such groups or partnerships, but because they carry less specific weight in present-day society. The reader will find some references to institutions that are of little relevance today such as polygamy or the bride price, but these are included by way of introduction to the analysis of certain problems or to assist in explaining the overall validity of certain forms of behaviour under different institutional conditions. Although the elderly do not form part of the nuclear family in the strict sense, a whole chapter is devoted to them and there are many references to the situation of the elderly in the chapter on inheritance. The reason for including such subjects is obviously their enormous relevance in the modern western world.

The family is studied in this book using the basic methodology of economic theory: the analysis of conduct for utility maximization in people whose aim is to achieve the greatest possible satisfaction with limited resources and imperfect information. This method of maximization under constraints has been seen to be very fruitful in the analysis of all types of economic behaviour and can also be usefully applied to the study of the family. In many cases, this approach is complemented with the use of game theory. Since the main objective of this theory is to analyse strategic types of conduct, it seems suitable for the study of certain short and long-term behaviour within the family. It also allows the emphasis to be placed on a matter that I consider to be of fundamental importance -- the logical basis for cooperation in a small organization such as the family in which the incentives for altruistic conduct are greater than in any other social group.

With a view to reaching both economists and laypeople, I have written the book on two levels that can be perfectly distinguished within the text by the size of the type used. Most of the sections give economic reasoning, although without any type of formal or graphic elements, so they should be accessible . . .

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