Discussion paper

DP16516 Economics and family structures

Household decisions are one of the key elements impacting many dimensions of any economy. In this paper, we review the economic literature on family types, focusing on nuclear, stem, and complex families. We show that family types are heterogeneous across and within countries, both in the past and in present times. We argue that economists have focused too much their analysis on nuclear families, which may limit our capacity to analyze the impact of institutional phenomena or public policies. We establish how each family type could relate to the basic ingredients of standard structural models of household decisions. We believe this overview sets the stage for an interesting research avenue to improve the structural models of household decision making.


Baudin, T, B De Rock and P Gobbi (2021), ‘DP16516 Economics and family structures‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16516. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16516