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Becker's theory of the family: Preposterous conclusions

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  • Barbara Bergmann

Abstract

Economic theory as applied to the family should increase our understanding of the phenomena we are studying, and allow us to implement fruitful intervention in cases where we are not satisfied with what is occurring. Much if not all of the theory of the family fails to achieve these aims. Examples are given from the most recent edition of Gary Becker's Theory of the Family, where the analysis leads to conclusions that are, on their face, preposterous. This kind of theorizing leads, as does almost all neoclassical theory, to a conclusion that the institutions depicted are benign, and that government intervention would be useless at best and probably harmful. But it isn't necessarily so.

Suggested Citation

  • Barbara Bergmann, 1995. "Becker's theory of the family: Preposterous conclusions," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 141-150.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:1:y:1995:i:1:p:141-150
    DOI: 10.1080/714042218
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Pollak, 2003. "Gary Becker's Contributions to Family and Household Economics," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 111-141, January.
    2. Inés P. Murillo & Hipólito Simón, 2014. "La Gran Recesión y el diferencial salarial por género en España," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 208(1), pages 39-76, March.
    3. Wiktor Adamowicz & Michel Hanemann & Joffre Swait & Reed Johnson & David Layton & Michel Regenwetter & Torsten Reimer & Robert Sorkin, 2005. "Decision Strategy and Structure in Households: A “Groups” Perspective," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 387-399, December.
    4. Stephanie Seguino, 2005. "All types of inequality are not created equal: divergent impacts of inequality on economic growth," Working Papers 10, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, revised Oct 2005.
    5. Joseph Deutsch & Jacques Silber, 2017. "Does women’s empowerment affect the health of children? The case of Mozambique," WIDER Working Paper Series 211, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Shelley Phipps & Peter Burton & Lars Osberg, 2001. "Time as a Source of Inequality Within Marriage: Are Husbands More Satisfied With Time for Themselves than Wives?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(2), pages 1-21.
    7. Lauk, Martina & Meyer, Susanne, 2004. "Frauen, Männer und die Hausarbeit Hintergründe der Zeitverwendung in Theorie und Empirie," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 125, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
    8. Lourdes Beneria, 1999. "Globalization, Gender And The Davos Man," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 61-83.
    9. Lauk, Martina & Meyer, Susanne, 2005. "Women, Men and Housework Time Allocation: Theory and Empirical Results," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 143, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
    10. Robert Cherry, 1998. "Rational Choice and the Price of Marriage," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 27-49.
    11. Inmaculada García-Mainar & Guillermo García-Martín & Víctor Montuenga, 2015. "Over-education and Gender Occupational Differences in Spain," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 807-833, December.
    12. Daumerie, Béatrice, 2003. "What Future for Europe? New perspectives in post-industrial fertility issues," Arbetsrapport 2003:7, Institute for Futures Studies.
    13. Nkechi S. Owoo & Elizabeth Bageant & Joanna Upton, 2018. "A top-down behaviour (TDB) microsimulation toolkit for distributive analysis," Working Papers PMMA 2018-02, PEP-PMMA.
    14. Elisabeth Cudeville & Charlotte Guénard & Anne-Sophie Robilliard, 2017. "Polygamy and female labour supply in Senegal," WIDER Working Paper Series 127, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    15. Shelley A. Phipps & Peter S. Burton, 1996. "Collective Models of Family Behaviour: Implications for Economic Policy," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 22(2), pages 129-143, June.
    16. J. Bonke & M. Deding & M. Lausten, 2006. "Time and Money: Substitutes in Real Terms and Complements in Satisfactions," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_451, Levy Economics Institute.
    17. Mabsout, Ramzi & van Staveren, Irene, 2010. "Disentangling Bargaining Power from Individual and Household Level to Institutions: Evidence on Women's Position in Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 783-796, May.
    18. Shelley Phipps, "undated". "Economics and Well-Being of Canadian Children," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 35, McMaster University.
    19. Burgoyne, Carole B. & Reibstein, Janet & Edmunds, Anne & Dolman, Valda, 2007. "Money management systems in early marriage: Factors influencing change and stability," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 214-228, April.

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    Keywords

    Family; economic theory; polygamy; fertility; altruism;

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