. Although much has been written on the economics of the family, very few works give a general overview of the subject and this has been my aim in this book. With such a broad field to cover, it has been necessary to drastically limit the topics broached. My purpose has been to analyse the family of today, that is, a family comprising a man and a woman who have married and who, in most cases, have children. Other types of family structure, such as the traditional extensive family or homosexual couples, are excluded not because economic analysis cannot be applied to such groups or partnerships, but because they carry less specific weight in presentday society. The reader will find some references to institutions that are of little relevance today such as polygamy or the bride price, but these are included by way of introduction to the analysis of certain problems or to assist in explaining the overall validity of certain forms of behaviour under different institutional conditions. Although the elderly do not form part of the nuclear family in the strict sense, a whole chapter is devoted to them and there are many references to the situation of the elderly in the chapter on inheritance. The reason for including such subjects is obviously their enormous relevance in the modern western world. The family is studied in this book using the basic methodology of economic theory: the analysis of conduct for utility maximization in people whose aim is to achieve...
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