Family and Household Economics

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The past decade has seen a dramatic surge in women entering the labor force, accompanied by significant changes in gender roles within the family, the workplace, and society as a whole. These developments have elicited growing academic interest and prompted proposals for legal and policy reforms designed to improve outcomes for women, families, and everyone else. This chapter explores some aspects of recent work in this area, with emphasis on the economic analysis of the interplay between labor markets and family roles. Topics discussed include household decision-making models; division of labor within households; theoretical approaches to explaining why women differ on average from men in their choices for balancing paid work and unpaid domestic labor; and two important legal protections for American women with caregiving responsibilities—the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.


labor force, labor markets, working women, economic analysis, caregiving, Family and Medical Leave Act, Civil Rights Act, paid work, domestic labor

Publication Title

Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics