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Gary Becker's Contributions to Family and Household Economics

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  • Robert Pollak

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Abstract

Gary Becker's influence on the economics of the family has been pervasive. His ideas have dominated research in the economics of the family, shaping the tools we use, the questions we ask, and the answers we give. The foundational assumptions of Becker's economic approach to the family–maximizing behavior and equilibrium–as well as such primary auxiliary assumptions as household production and interdependent preferences, are now widely accepted not only by economists but also by family sociologists, demographers, and others who study the family. Yet the interesting and provocative implications of Becker's economic approach to the family do not follow from the foundational assumptions or from the primary auxiliary assumptions. Instead they depend on contested auxiliary assumptions to which neoclassical economics has no commitment and which lack empirical support. This paper discusses the crucial role of auxiliary assumptions in Becker's analysis of the family, first in the context of preferences, then in the context of household production, and finally in the context of family or household collective choice. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Review of Economics of the Household.

Volume (Year): 1 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 111-141

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Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:1:y:2003:i:1:p:111-141

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=109451

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Keywords: bargaining models of marriage; altruism; household production; family bargaining;

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References

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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1991. "Habits, Addictions, and Traditions," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 71, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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  9. McElroy, Marjorie B, 1985. "The Joint Determination of Household Membership and Market Work: The Case of Young Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 293-316, July.
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  12. Frances Woolley, 1996. "Getting the better of Becker," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 114-120.
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  14. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  15. Behrman, Jere R. & Pollak, Robert A. & Taubman, Paul, 1995. "From Parent to Child," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226041568, May.
  16. Barbara Bergmann, 1995. "Becker's theory of the family: Preposterous conclusions," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 141-150.
  17. Alderman, H. & Chiappori, P.A. & Haddad, L., 1994. "Unitary versus Collective Models of the Household: Time to Shift the Burden of Proof?," DELTA Working Papers 94-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  18. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
  19. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 91-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  20. Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1986. "The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma," UCLA Economics Working Papers 402, UCLA Department of Economics.
  21. Ted Bergstrom, 1995. "A Survey of Theories of the Family," Papers _027, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
  22. Pollak, Robert A & Wachter, Michael L, 1975. "The Relevance of the Household Production Function and Its Implications for the Allocation of Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 255-77, April.
  23. Pollak, Robert A, 1985. "A Transaction Cost Approach to Families and Households," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 581-608, June.
  24. Pollak, Robert A, 1978. "Endogenous Tastes in Demand and Welfare Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 374-79, May.
  25. Steven Stern & Maxim Engers, . "Long-Term Care and Family Bargaining," Virginia Economics Online Papers 320, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  26. Marjorie B. McElroy, 1990. "The Empirical Content of Nash-Bargained Household Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 559-583.
  27. Pollak, R.A. & Watkins, S.C., 1993. "Cultural and Economic Approaches to Fertility : A Proper Marriage or a Mesalliance?," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 93-11, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  28. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  29. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "Noncooperative Bargaining Models of Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 132-37, May.
  30. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  31. Pollak, Robert A, 1988. "Tied Transfers and Paternalistic Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 240-44, May.
  32. Hannan, Michael T, 1982. "Families, Markets, and Social Structures: An Essay on Becker's A Treatise on the Family," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 65-72, March.
  33. T. Paul Schultz, 1990. "Testing the Neoclassical Model of Family Labor Supply and Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 599-634.
  34. David Lam, 1988. "Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 462-487.
  35. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  36. Haddad, Lawrence & Hoddinott, John & Alderman, Harold & DEC, 1994. "Intrahousehold resource allocation : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1255, The World Bank.
  37. Tjalling C. Koopmans & Martin J. Beckmann, 1955. "Assignment Problems and the Location of Economic Activities," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 4, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  38. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
  39. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  40. Shoshana Grossbard-Shechtman, 2001. "The New Home Economics at Colombia and Chicago," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(3), pages 103-130.
  41. Gary S. Becker, 1960. "An Economic Analysis of Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 209-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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