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WISE 2P86 2011 Spring Chapter 3

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Brock University
Women's and Gender Studies
Indra Hardeen

Chapter 3 the family as an economic unitNeoclassical economics is largely concerned with the behaviour of economic manThe neoclassical model points to potential efficiency gains arising from the traditional division of labourPeople still form families despite this decrease in specializationOne possible reason is that there are other types of economic benefits to forming families besides specializationThe family maximizes its utility satisfaction by selecting the combination of commodities from which it derives the greatest possible amount of utilityThe term comparative advantage is used when describing the opportunity cost of two producers opportunity cost is whatever must be given up to obtain some itemThe producer who has the smaller opportunity cost of producing a good is said to have a comparative advantageIt is frequently the case that women have a comparative advantage in household production and men have a comparative advantage in market workThe traditional division of labour is not necessarily the optimal arrangementEach couple will seek to produce their desired combination of market and home goods in the most efficient wayThe traditional family has become less common in recent yearsSuch shifts in comparative advantage of women and men substantially reduce the gains to marriageAdvantages other economic gains can be realized in marriage in addition to noneconomic advantagesAdvantages of MarriageEconomies of scale when an increase in the scale of operation of a productive unit can result in increased output at a decreasing incremental costFor example housing for two is likely to cost less than the combined amount each would pay for separate housingPublic goods have the unique characteristic that the consumption or enjoyment of the item by one person does not diminish the consumption or enjoyment of the same item by others
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