Fall 2021 - ECON 454W D100

Seminar in the Economics of the Family (3)

Class Number: 2891

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 2503, Burnaby

    Th 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
    WMC 2501, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 20, 2021
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    AQ 5008, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    ECON 201 or 301 and ECON (or BUEC) 333, all with a minimum grade of C-.



An economic analysis of behavior within the family, institutional aspects of the family, and the economic role of families. Topics include bargaining, household production, intra-family transfers, fertility, marriage, divorce and other topics like dowries, footbinding and mate matching behavior. Writing.


This course examines a topic foreign to most economists, but familiar to everyone: the family.  The course will study a series of issues including:  bargaining within the household; altruism in the family; household production and investment; transfers to children; fertility; marriage markets; divorce; the purpose of marriage; family law; social norms within families; and household formation. The course will use both neoclassical and institutional tools.

Many of the papers discussed will use a good dose of maximization models. Students should be comfortable with Econ 201 level calculus and maximization methodology. New theoretical and statistical material will be taught as needed.  The goal within each class will be to understand the economic implications of the models.

This is a seminar.  I expect that all students will do the readings ahead of class and be prepared for discussion. Students are expected to participate in each class discussion and make presentations from time to time. If you are unwilling to speak in front of others, you will not do well in this course. However, I’m only looking for participation and effort when it comes to discussion. This is also a writing course. Students will be given weekly writing assignments and a term paper assignment.

Please note: Students who have taken ECON 496 in Spring 2006 may not take this course for further credit. 


  • Participation 30%
  • Writing assignments 10%
  • Term paper 20%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Final exam 20%



None. Articles will be made available in the first class.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Please note that, as per Policy T20.01, the course requirements (and grading scheme) outlined here are subject to change up until the end of the first week of classes.

Final exam schedules will be released during the second month of classes. If your course has a final exam, please ensure that you are available during the entire final exam period until you receive confirmation of your exam dates. 

Students requiring accommodations as a result of a disability must contact the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) at 778-782-3112 or caladmin@sfu.ca.


Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.