Household Behavior over the Life Cycle

Course content

The course brings together especially labor and public economics with gender and family economics to analyze different aspects of household behavior over the life cycle. The household, consisting potentially of several adult members, is the central decision unit throughout the course. The topics and models in this course play a key role in current discussions on labor market inequality and welfare reforms in general. The tools you learn in this course are generally applicable in analyzing many aspects of the economy and can help inform policy makers on a broad range of topics.


The course combines theory, dynamic programming and empirical analysis: Along with different models describing household behavior over the life cycle, you will be introduced to numerical methods used to solve, simulate and estimate such models using empirical data. Concretely, you will learn to solve and simulate simple versions of these models and to interpret results from richer models used in research papers.


Some specific topics in the course includes

  • Dynamic labor supply and human capital accumulation
  • Career costs of children
  • Calibration and estimation of dynamic programming models
  • Retirement of couples
  • Marriage and divorce
  • Fertility
  • Consumption and saving over the life-cycle

MSc programme in Economics – elective course


The PhD Programme in Economics at the Department of Economics:

  • The course is an elective course with research module. In order to register for the research module and to be able to write the research assignment, the PhD students must contact the study administration AND the lecturer.


The course is open to:

  • Exchange and Guest students from abroad
  • Credit students from Danish Universities
  • Open University students
Learning outcome

After completing the course the student is expected to be able to:



  • Account for how human capital accumulation and fertility can affect labour supply behaviour over the life cycle
  • Account for how dual-earner households can coordinate labour supply over the life cycle
  • Critically discuss how different household models view the intra-household decision process
  • Define, formulate and interpret models of household behaviour
  • Account for backwards induction and how to solve dynamic programming models
  • Account for how to simulate behaviour from dynamic economic models
  • Account for how to perform counterfactual policy reform simulations
  • Account for how to estimate dynamic models using empirical data



  • Solve simple models of household behavior
  • Simulate simple models of household behavior
  • Analyze counterfactual policy reform simulations from simple and more complex models of household behavior



  • Discuss and evaluate research on household behavior over the life cycle
  • Discuss and evaluate alternative model frameworks for describing household behavior over the life cycle
  • Modify computer code to analyze small changes to simple models


Each meeting will be a combination of lectures, quizzes, group discussions and programming exercises in Python.

A combination of lecture notes and research articles. Examples of research articles could include

  • "Life-cycle Labour Supply with Human Capital: Econometric and Behavioural Implications", by Keane, Michael P., The Economic Journal 126, 592 (2016), pp. 546--577.
  • "Female Labour Supply, Human Capital and Welfare Reform" by Blundell, Richard, Dias, Monica Costa, Meghir, Costas, and Shaw, Jonathan M., Econometrica 84, 5 (2016), pp. 1705--1753.
  • "The Career Costs of Children", by Adda, J., Dustmann, C., and Stevens, K., Journal of Political Economy 125, 2 (2017), pp. 293-337.
  • "Social security and the retirement and savings behavior of low-income households", by van der Klaauw, Wilbert and Wolpin, Kenneth I., Journal of Econometrics 145, 1-2 (2008), pp. 21--42.
  • "Yours, Mine, and Ours: Do Divorce Laws Affect the Intertemporal Behavior of Married Couples?", by Voena, Alessandra, American Economic Review 105, 8 (2015), pp. 2295--2332.
  • "Fertility Choice in a Life Cycle Model with Idiosyncratic Uninsurable Earnings Risk", by Sommer, Kamilla, Journal of Monetary Economics 83 (2016), pp. 27--38.

The student should have a sound knowledge of Python and programming from the course “Introduction to Programming and Numerical Analysis”.

The student could benefit from taking the courses “Dynamic Programming – Theory, Computation and Empirical Applications”, “Economics of Gender”, and “Labour Economics” before or simultaneously.

2 hours lectures a week from week 6 to 20.

The overall schema can be seen at KUnet:
MSc in Economics => "courses and teaching" => "Planning and overview" => "Your timetable"
KA i Økonomi => "Kurser og undervisning" => "Planlægning og overblik" => "Dit skema"

Timetable and venue:
To see the time and location of lectures and exercise classes please press the link under "Timetable"/​"Se skema" at the right side of this page (F means Spring).

Please be aware:
- The schedule of the lectures can change without the participants´ acceptance. If this occure, you can see the new schedule in your personal timetable at KUnet, in the app myUCPH and through the links in the right side of this course description and the link above.
- It is the students´s own responsibility continuously throughout the study to stay informed about their study, their teaching, their schedule, their exams etc. through the curriculum of the study programme, the study pages at KUnet, student messages, the course description, the Digital Exam portal, Absalon, the personal schema at KUnet and myUCPH app etc.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

to be informed

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio, 48 hours
Type of assessment details
The exam is a written assignment consisting of two parts:
• Part 1: The first part is based on the three mandatory assignments worked on during the course. The student can use the peer feedback received during the course to improve the assignments. This can be done before the exam period begins.
• Part 2: The second part is a new assignment given in English. The new assignment correspond to approximately a 24 hours assignment.

The parts are being weighted with 30/70.

Please be aware that:
• The new assignment must be written individually.
• The students are allowed to communicate about the given problem-set for the new assignment but must work on the assignment individually.
• The plagiarism rules must be complied.
• All parts must be answered in English and all parts must be uploaded to Digital Exam in one file.
Exam registration requirements

To qualify for the exam the student must no later than the given deadlines during the course:

  • Hand in and have two pre-defined home assignments approved
  • Hand in summary of idea for open-ended home assignment
  • Provide useful written peer feedback based on specific cirteria on to other open-ended home assignment idea summaries of peers


Please be aware of:

  • The the lecturer controls the assignments and the feedback.
  • The assignments and the peer feedback must be written in English.
  • The mandatory assignments and the peer feedback are part of a portfolio exam. See “Type of assessment"
All aids allowed

Use of AI tools, such as ChatGPT, is allowed for the written exam.

Information about allowed aids for the re-examination, please go to the section "Re-exam".

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
for the written exam.
An oral re-examination may be with external assessment.
Exam period


Exam information:

More information is available in Digital Exam from the middle of the semester.

More information about examination, rules, aids etc. at Master (UK) and Master (DK).


The reexam is a 20 min. oral exam without preparation time. 

No aids are allowed. 


Reexam information:

More information in Digital Exam in August. 

More information at Master UK) and Master DK)

Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the course.


In order to obtain the top grade “12”, 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 and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.


In order to obtain the passing grade “02”, the student must in a satisfactory way be able to demonstrate a minimal acceptable level of  the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Class Instruction
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 112
  • Exam
  • 24
  • English
  • 220


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

- Go to 'Signup' for information about registration and enrollment.

Information about admission and tuition fee: Master and Exchange Programme, credit students and guest students (Open University)

and venue:
- For teaching: Go to 'Remarks'.
- For exam and re-sits: Go to 'Exam'.
Department of Economics, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Thomas Høgholm Jørgensen   (18-83777e7c70823d773d797e8176747d82747d4f74727e7d3d7a843d737a)

Lectures: See ‘Course Coordinators’

Please read "Remarks" regarding the schedule of the teaching.

Saved on the 17-05-2024

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students