A TREATISE ON THE FAMILY

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1991 - Business & Economics - 424 pages
6 Reviews

Imagine each family as a kind of little factory—a multiperson unit producing meals, health, skills, children, and self-esteem from market goods and the time, skills, and knowledge of its members. This is only one of the remarkable concepts explored by Gary Becker in his landmark work on the family. Becker applies economic theory to the most sensitive and fateful personal decisions, such as choosing a spouse or having children. He uses the basic economic assumptions of maximizing behavior, stable preferences, arid equilibria in explicit or implicit markets to analyze the allocation of time to child care as well as to careers, to marriage and divorce in polygynous as well as monogamous societies, to the increase and decrease of wealth from one generation to another.

The consideration of the family from this perspective has profound theoretical and practical implications. For example, Becker's analysis of assortative mating can be used to study matching processes generally. Becker extends the powerful tools of economic analysis to problems once considered the province of the sociologist, the anthropologist, and the historian. The obligation of these scholars to take account of his work thus constitutes an important step in the unification of the social sciences.

A Treatise on the Family will have an impact on public policy as well. Becker shows that social welfare programs have significant effects on the allocation of resources within families. For example, social security taxes tend to reduce the amount of resources children give to their aged parents. The implications of these findings are obvious and far-reaching.

With the publication of this extraordinary book, the family moves to the forefront of the research agenda in the social sciences.

  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - heidilove - LibraryThing

this is an interesting look at the family from an economoic point of view. the narrative isn't really a narrative, and one has to be able to translate equations into the point, as Becker doesn't ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Wounderful book for those who wants to explorer the "market" relations inside families

Contents

SinglePerson Households
20
Division of Labor in Households and Families
30
Human Capital Effort and the Sexual Division of Labor
54
Polygamy and Monogamy in Marriage Markets
80
Assortative Mating in Marriage Markets
108
The Demand for Children
135
A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility
155
Family Background and the Opportunities of Children
179
Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families
238
Altruism in the Family
277
Families in Nonhuman Species
307
Imperfect Information Marriage and Divorce
324
The Evolution of the Family
342
The Family and the State
362
Bibliography
383
Index
411

Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility
201

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References to this book

On Ethics and Economics
Amartya Sen
No preview available - 1991
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About the author (1991)

Gary S. Becker is University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago. In 1992, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

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