The Economics of the Family and Family Policy
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The Economics of the Family and Family Policy

Francisco Cabrillo

This comprehensive and authoritative book offers a global approach to the modern economics of the family, family law and family policy. Beginning with the division of labour in the family, this book deals with the economics of marriage, the demand for children, inter-generational relationships, and the economics of inheritance. The family is analysed using the theory of utility maximisation assuming that individuals wish to achieve the greatest possible satisfaction with limited resources and imperfect knowledge. The family is examined from both long and short term perspectives, and it is assumed that the family is cooperative with incentives for altruistic behaviour greater than in any other social group.
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Chapter 1: Economists and the Family

Francisco Cabrillo


Page 1 1.  Economists and the family 1  THE ECONOMICS OF NON­MERCANTILE CONDUCT  One of the most remarkable characteristics of economics towards the close of the twentieth century is its scope. Far from dealing only with strictly ‘economic’  problems—market and price analysis, money, banking or economic cycles—economists today do not think twice about studying matters that are far from their usual  fields, such as the behaviour of politicians, the efficiency of law, family life or drug addiction. This is the ‘imperialism of economists’s, welcomed by some as a first step  towards a unified social science based on the theory of rational choice,1 and rejected by others as unacceptable interference in the study of human conduct which, say  the critics, has nothing to do with the rationality and maximization of utility that economists assume. But there is nothing new in economists showing interest in human behaviour and the institutions that govern society. The origin of their interest goes back to the very  birth of economics as a scientific discipline. To give one well­known example, Adam Smith, who was a Professor of moral philosophy and law, dealt fully with the role  of the institutions in economic development both in The Wealth of Nations and in other works.2 This trend continued with classic economics. And it is no surprise that  John Stuart Mill, for example, should have devoted several pages of his Principles of Political Economy to subjects such as education, the legal protection of children or  the...

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