Past Research: For the last fifteen years, Professor Chiappori has examined household behavior. Specifically, he has, in collaboration with other researchers, developed the so-called ‘collective’ approach to household behavior. The traditional approach to family economics treats the whole family as a unique decision-making unit, described by a single utility function. The collective household model provides an alternative to this approach by treating individual members of a family—as opposed to the family as a whole—as core decision-makers, and by explicitly assuming that household behavior reflects Pareto-efficient decisions collectively reached by them. Starting a little more than a decade ago, the empirical literature began to provide support for the notion that relative spousal incomes matter for family decisions and intra-household allocations, a finding that is not compatible with the unitary approach. As a result, the collective approach to household decision-making has emerged as a natural theoretical tool for analyzing the economics of the family.
In a series of papers and in two forthcoming books, Chiappori has provided the basic characterization of household demand and supply stemming from this collective framework. This work has led to a number of empirical applications. Of particular interest, from a policy perspective, is the research on ‘targeting’, which analyzes how policy intervention may alter the balance of power within couples, and what outcomes may result.
Present/Future Research: Chiappori is currently working on extensions of the collective framework to cover pre-marital decisions, spousal matching and divorce.
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