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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Survey of Theories of the Family

  • Author(s): Bergstrom, Ted
  • et al.

This review explores the theory of household technology and the associated possibilities for distributing utility among household members. It also explores decision theory within the household, drawing on standard consumer decision theory. The review discusses models of equilbrium in which families are formed by persons voluntarily choosing mates. This theory is analogous to ``Tiebout theory'' in urban economics, where the objects of choice include not only the amount of public goods supplied in each city, but also which individuals live in each place. An aspect of family life that has fewer parallels in the economics of market economies is intrafamilial affection. The final section of this paper reviews a growing theoretical literature on love, altruism and the family.

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