While extensive economic research has been done on the traditional family consisting of a married different-sex couple and their children, new models of the family are now beginning to be explored. Same-sex and different-sex couples face different constraints that lead to dissimilar explicit/implicit cost benefit analysis for each type of family, which leads to same-sex and different-sex couples making different decisions. Four economic decisions are explored using an approach similar to Gary Becker's analysis of the family in Treatise on the Family: 1) the decision to commit, 2) how to define the relationship, 3) how to specialize within the household, and 4) the choice to have children. Models using data from the 2010 March Supplement of the U.S. Census support the conclusion that same-sex couples will have fewer children than different-sex couples based on disparate legal rights and biological constraints. Also, empirical testing shows that couple type plays a significant role in the decision to expand their family by having children.




same-sex couples, new home economics, household decision making

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Wardrop