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Economics in a Family Way


  • Theodore C. Bergstrom


This paper argues that the economics of the family can be much enriched by incorporating recent developments in evolutionary biology, animal behavior studies, cultural evolution, anthropology, and game theory. Evolutionary foundations of sympathy between relatives are explored. Applications of the theory of cultural evolution to the demographic transition and to wealth transfers between generations are investigated. The economics of marital institutions such as polygyny, polyandry, and matriarchy are discussed, as well as recent work by economists on non-monogamous mating arrangements in our own society. Applications of recent developments in non-cooperative bargaining theory and matching theory to the theory of marriage are presented.

Suggested Citation

  • Theodore C. Bergstrom, "undated". "Economics in a Family Way," ELSE working papers 018, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  • Handle: RePEc:els:esrcls:018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Donald Cox & Oded Stark, 1996. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Demonstration Effect," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 329., Boston College Department of Economics.
    2. Ted Bergstrom, "undated". "On the Economic of Polygyny," Papers _032, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
    3. Theodore C. Bergstrom, "undated". "Primogeniture, Monogamy and Reproductive Success in a Stratified Society," ELSE working papers 044, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
    4. Bergstrom, Theodore C., 1993. "A survey of theories of the family," Handbook of Population and Family Economics,in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 21-79 Elsevier.
    5. Ronald Lee, 1980. "Age Structure, Intergenerational Transfers and Economic Growth : an Overview," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 31(6), pages 1129-1156.
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