Seminar: Family Economics

Course content

Family economics applies standard economic concepts to decision making by individuals and families. Concepts such as production, division of labor, and cooperation are used to understand marriage (Why? Who?), how to organize household production, investments in specific human capital, the decision to have children, investments in these children, labor market outcomes as a result of family organization, and divorce. Some of the classical topics in family economics revolve around the matching in the marriage market, the quantity-quality-tradeoff in the number of children, or the division of labor by gender. Topics that generated many recent empirical advances are the family gap (cost of motherhood), intergenerational mobility in health, and effects of family structure.


In this seminar, students will study a topic within Family Economics from an empirical perspective. They are expected to develop a feasible research question, examine it using appropriate data, and critically discuss their findings in the light of relevant theory and existing research.

Replicating and extending an existing study, with an updated placement into the current literature, is also regarded suitable.



MSc programme in Economics

The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics

Learning outcome

Additional for the learning outcome specified in the Curriculum  the student should after completing the seminar be able to:


  • Have a sound overview of the relevant seminal papers and recent literature in the sub-topic of your choice in Family Economics.
  • Understand how empirical results identify relationships in question, and how they address predictions from theoretical models.



  • Find and use relevant data sources
  • Perform and present empirical analyses concisely in written and oral form,
  • Discuss empirical results critically – with an evaluation of the empirical strategy as well as related findings in the literature
  • Select the theories or frameworks, and pieces of empirical evidence, which are relevant for the topic of your choice
  • Discuss an empirical strategy as an opponent



  • Understand and extract information from scientific papers in the field of family economics, quickly identify their contributions and limitations.
  • Apply economic thinking to questions related to family economics understand theoretical approaches and empirical strategies of economists in the field of family economics

Kick-off meeting, research and writing process of the seminar paper, sessions with presentation of own paper and critical evaluation/feedback to another student´s paper, actively participating in discussions at class.

Before the session a "so-finalized-as-possible"-version of the paper must be uploaded in Absalon. After the presentations, the student submit an edited version of the paper in the Digital Exam portal as the final exam paper. The aim is that students use the presentation sessions as an opportunity to receive and use the constructive feedback to improve the paper.

Students will receive an extensive list of seminal journal articles in different sub-fields of Family Economics. These cover the benefits of marriage, household production, matching in the marriage market, fertility, investments in children, family gap, gender wage gap, divorce


Examples of journal articles are

  • Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2007). Marriage and divorce: Changes and their driving forces. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2), 27-52.
  • Sandra E. Black, Paul J. Devereux, Kjell G. Salvanes (2005). The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120 (2): 669-700.
  • Goldin, C., Katz, L. (2002): The Power Of The Pill: Contraceptives And Women's Career And Marriage Decisions, Journal of Political Economy 10(4):730-770.
  • Ruhm, C. J. (2000). Parental leave and child health. Journal of Health Economics 19 (6), 931-60.
  • Black, Sandra, Devereux, Paul and Salvanes, Kjell (2007): From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes. The Quarterly Journal of Economics: 409/439
  • Halla, Martin (2013). The Effect of Joint Custody on Family Outcomes, Journal of the European Economic Association, 11, issue 2, p. 278-315



Any master student can enroll as long as they are willing to engage with the relevant literature, and have followed econometrics at a level that enables them to engage in their own empirical work and/or discuss different empirical approaches critically.
Having followed the course in Family economics is an advantage but not required.

BSc in Economics or similar

• Kick-off meeting: September 6, 2018 at 13-16
• Deadline commitmentpaper: September 20
• Poster session with feedback: October 11, 13-16h
• Deadline of pre-paper uploaded to Absalon: one week before presentations
• Presentations/Workshops: November 14 and 15

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
- a seminar paper in English that meets the formal requirements for written papers stated in the curriculum of the Master programme and at KUNet for seminars.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the seminar and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes in the Curriculum  of the Master programme.

To receive the top grade, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 186
  • English
  • 206