Sharing of resources within the family and the economics of household decision making

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 15, 2013


Over the last 3 decades, economic models have been developed that recognize that potentially conflicting interests may shape household decisions and the sharing of resources within families. This article provides an overview of how decision making within households has been modeled within economics, presents the main benefits and limitations of those models, and critically assesses their usefulness to researchers from other disciplines interested in the within- household distribution of resources. The main focus is on the theory, empirical application, and results of the currently dominant collective models, but the authors also look at developments that led up to them and some subsequent extensions and alternative approaches. Given the weight placed by policymakers and others on economic and quantitative evidence, it is incumbent on researchers of all disciplines to understand the achievements and limitations of the models used, explicitly or implicitly, to produce such evidence and the assumptions that lie behind them.

Published in

Journal of Marriage and Family

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 75 , p.625 -639






Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to Univ. Essex registered users*



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest