The Family as a Social Institution

39 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2021

See all articles by Natalie Bau

Natalie Bau

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Raquel Fernández

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2021

Abstract

This handbook chapter focuses on important interactions between the family and culture. We discuss the wide range of global variation in family institutions, variation which is in part sustained by cultural differences, and important recent changes in family structures. The chapter discusses why different family institutions arise, when they persist, and what forces may lead them to change. Furthermore, it examines changes in key family outcomes, such as the rise of female labor force participation, the decline in marriage, and the increase in divorce. These changes have been accompanied by and interact with cultural change. Finally, we show how cultural institutions related to the family, such as son preference, co-residence traditions, polygyny, and marriage payments, affect decision-making within the family and interact with policy. We conclude that studying the family in a vacuum, without accounting for the role of culture, may lead to misleading conclusions regarding the effects of policies, macroeconomic shocks, or technological change.

JEL Classification: I00, J1, J11, J12, J13, J16, O11, O12

Suggested Citation

Bau, Natalie and Fernández, Raquel, The Family as a Social Institution (June 2021). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP16263, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3886732

Natalie Bau (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

Raquel Fernández

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics ( email )

269 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-998-8908 (Phone)
212-995-4186 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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