10 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 1, 2011
The institutions of family and marriage may seem beyond the remit of economics, involving complexities which the discipline could only ever assume away. There is, however, a significant body of research, which applies the adaptable economists’ toolbox to these areas of life, often yielding a significant degree of insight. Gary Becker’s seminal Treatise on the Family, one of the first studies to subject decisions about sex, marriage, childbearing and childrearing to economic analysis, employed concepts such as the maximisation of family, or household, utility functions to explain family collective choice, with later authors using game theoretic models to offer a different perspective on the intra-household distribution of goods. However, the well-documented phenomenon of urban areas having higher divorce rates than rural regions is not addressed by existing family economics literature, despite the importance of such trends to social policy planners. We develop a new model that provides a theoretical basis for the difference in rural and urban divorce rates, drawing on insights from labour economics and social psychology that have not previously been applied to family economics.
Keywords: marriage, divorce, partner search
JEL Classification: J12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation