The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Family Economics

  • John Ermisch
Reference work entry


Family economics is the application of the analytical methods of microeconomics to family behaviour. It aims to improve our understanding of resource allocation and the distribution of welfare within the family, investment in children and inter-generational transfers, family formation and dissolution and how families and markets interact. In family economics, non-market interactions are crucial for family behaviour and individual welfare.


Altruism Becker, G Child nutrition and mortality Collective models of the household Demographic transition Family decision-making Family economics Family planning Fertility in developed countries Fertility in developing countries Human capital Intergenerational income mobility Intergenerational transfers Intrahousehold welfare Labour supply Malthus, T Marriage and divorce Rotten Kid Theorem Shadow pricing Women’s work and wages 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Becker, G. 1960. An economic analysis of fertility. In Demographic and economic change in developed countries, ed. National Bureau of Economic Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Becker, G. 1981. A treatise on the family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bergstrom, T. 1989. A fresh look at the Rotten Kid Theorem: And other household mysteries. Journal of Political Economy 97: 1138–1159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bergstrom, T. 1996. Economics in a family way. Journal of Economic Literature 34: 1903–1934.Google Scholar
  5. Browning, M., and P.-A. Chiappori. 1998. Efficient intra-household allocations: A general characterization and empirical tests. Econometrica 66: 1241–1278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burdett, K., and M. Coles. 1999. Long-term partnership formation: Marriage and employment. Economic Journal 109: F307–F334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cigno, A. 1998. Fertility decisions when infant survival is endogenous. Journal of Population Economics 11: 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cigno, A. 2000. Self-enforcing family constitutions. In Sharing the wealth: Intergenerational economic relations and demographic change, ed. A. Mason and G. Tapinos. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cox, D. 1987. Motives for private income transfers. Journal of Political Economy 95: 508–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ermisch, J. 2003. An economic analysis of the family. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Konrad, K., and K. Lommerud. 1995. Family policy with non-cooperative families. Scandinavian Journal of Economics 97: 581–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Pollak, R. 1985. A transaction cost approach to families and households. Journal of Economic Literature 23: 581–608.Google Scholar
  13. Rosenzweig, M. 1990. Population growth and human capital investments: Theory and evidence. Journal of Political Economy 98: S38–S70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Weiss, Y., and R. Willis. 1985. Children as collective goods and divorce settlements. Journal of Labor Economics 3: 268–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Willis, R. 1973. A new approach to the economic theory of fertility behavior. Journal of Political Economy 81: S14–S64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Ermisch
    • 1
  1. 1.