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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: July 2010

1 - Introduction


The Economic Organization of the Household is an introduction to the economics of the family. It uses the economic theory of production as well as the economic theory of the consumer to better understand the behavior of individuals and families. By behavior we mean more than just consumers' purchases of market goods and services as explained by neoclassical consumer theory. The economics of the family also sheds light on individual and family investments in monetary assets and human capital, the use of householders' time in market work, household work, and other nonmarket activities. Economics of the family goes further in providing an understanding of the effects economic forces have on the fertility, marriage, and divorce decisions of individuals and families.

The economics of the family has been called the “new home economics” in partial recognition of the long history of empirical studies of family behavior conducted by home economists. By the 1930s, “family economics and home management” had become a separate field of study within home economics. Purchasing behavior, family time use, and financial management were among the topics studied and taught. Home management theory was developed to provide a unified framework within which all family decision making could be understood (Deacon and Firebaugh 1988). As such, it was multidisciplinary in its attempt to integrate economics, sociology, and psychology into a single framework for the empirical study of family behavior.