Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 805–834 | Cite as

Self-enforcing family rules, marriage and the (non)neutrality of public intervention

  • Alessandro Cigno
  • Mizuki Komura
  • Annalisa Luporini
Original Paper


We demonstrate that the notion of a family ‘constitution’ (self-enforcing, renegotiation-proof norm) requiring adults to provide attention for their elderly parents carries over from a world where identical individuals reproduce asexually, to one where individuals differentiated by sex and preferences marry, have children and bargain over the allocation of domestic resources. In this heterogenous world, couples are sorted by their preferences. If a couple’s common preferences satisfy a certain condition, the couple have an interest in instilling those preferences into their children. Policies are generally nonneutral. In particular, wage redistribution may raise, and compulsory education will reduce, the share of the adult population that is governed by family constitutions, and thus the share of the elderly population who receive attention from their children.


Support of the elderly Marriage Matching Family constitution Preference transmission Policy neutrality 

JEL Classification

D1 I2 I3 J1 



Valuable comments by two anonymous referees, and editorial guidance by Junsen Zhang, are gratefully acknowledged. Remaining errors are the authors’ responsibility. Mizuki Komura was supported by the project ‘Comprehensive Cooperative System for Fostering Researchers with Doctoral Degrees’ of Building of Consortia for the Development of Human Resources in Science and Technology and JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 15K17074.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Cigno
    • 1
  • Mizuki Komura
    • 2
  • Annalisa Luporini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of EconomicsMusashi UniversityTokyoJapan

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