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Chayanov revisited: A model for the economics of complex kin units

Abstract

Chayanov's model of the peasant economy is based on autarkic nuclear family households. Expansion to the more complex households and kin groups common in peasant societies shows that the sharp changes Chayanov observed in the consumer/producer ratio over the domestic cycle are smoothed by the intergenerational structure of complex households and extended kin groups. This amelioration may be retarded by competition between constituent units. Understanding the dynamics of the developmental cycle and micropolitics of domestic groups is a useful correction to Chayanov's widely used formulation, especially in developing countries where complex kin structures are common.

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