I teach a course in family economics aimed at advanced undergraduates. The course aims to be mix core concepts used in the economic analysis of family behaviour with recent research on key topics such as fertility, child-development, nature v nurture, domestic abuse and the role of gender norms
Week 1: Empirical stylized facts
We cover key stylized facts regarding family structure and behaviour from the post-war era to the present day.
Week 2: Economic gains
We go through key theories used is economics to explain partnership formation, including specialization, economies of scale, coordinated investments, and risk-sharing.
Week 3: Decision-making within the family
We look at theories used by economics to model intra-household interactions, including unitary models, bargaining models, and “collective models”, their relative empirical support, including the income-pooling and evidence based on cash-transfer programmes and field-experiments.
Week 4: Matching and marital choices: Theory and empirics
We cover core concepts such as stable matching, transferrable utility, and search frictions and we explore the empirical content in each class of model.
Week 5: Matching and marital choices: Empirics
We look at recent empirical research on marriage markets, including understanding the inequality, intergenerational social mobility and integration.
Week 6: Fertility
We look at how economists model the fertility choices, the investment in child quality, and the empirical evidence on the “quantity-quality” tradeoff both in developed and developing countries, and at the role of policy.
Week 7: Investment in children and intergenerational social mobility
We look at models of parents’ investments in their children’s human capital, including recent research on “parenting methods” and dynamic human capital “production function”. We look at the issue of nature v nurture and the implications for social mobility.
Week 8: Domestic violence and Child Maltreatment
We look how economics is contributing to the research on intimate partner violence in terms of drivers, effects and scope for policy. We also look at the impact of IPV on children’s outcome and the direct maltreatment of children.
Week 9: Norms and Gender
We pick up on a range of recent research into the role of norms in relation to family behaviour, from basic “breadwinner hypothesis”, and “male backlash”, through to “sexism culture” and its implications for gender equality.