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The Household: Informal Order around the Hearth Paperback – Aug 22 2010


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One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2009

"Robert C. Ellickson defines the household as a voluntary grouping of relatives or non-relatives living under the same roof. As he points out in his engaging study, this pervasive institution has received surprisingly little attention from social theorists. . . . The Household, a short, curious and enjoyable book, provides a novel way of looking at an institution from which very few of us can escape."--Lucy Worsley, Times Literary Supplement

"Ellickson's book represents a skillful use of the analytical tools of the law-and-economics movement to understand relations within the household--a complicated machine for living that involves a large number of joint decisions. . . . Ellickson's book pushes us to think more clearly about the benefits and the costs of homeownership. His book makes sense of one of the most striking facts in the homeownership literature: the extremely tight relationship between structure type and ownership. . . . Houses are most Americans' most important asset. They are the stages on which we live our lives. And so housing policy is worthy of intense attention--but until the current crisis housing policy existed in the netherworld of the more unglamorous public pursuits. Perhaps our present-day troubles will create the opportunity to produce better housing policies, or so I hope. Robert Ellickson's ideas can certainly help."--Edward Glaeser, The New Republic

"This volume is a tour de force! Ellickson takes the reader on an erudite, highly informative journey through the household in all of its many manifestations and facets. . . . The reader enjoys a catholic view of why households persist; why they are the size they are; how ownership versus rental decisions are made; what motivates adding or shedding household members; and most fascinatingly, how informal norms regulate household occupant behavior with little formal and explicit societal legislation."--D. J. Conger, Choice

"Through its methodological synthesis of economic with legal and sociological analysis, this text serves as an important primer on household structures in liberal societies."--Patricia McGee Crotty, Law and Politics Book Review

"By pulling together a range of diverse topics and data, the book is thought-provoking. It is dense but readable, and Ellickson presents economic arguments in an accessible way. Reading it challenged (and energized) me to think about the unique contribution of sociological explanations."--Carrie Yodanis, Canadian Journal of Sociology

From the Back Cover

"This book is very original. Most of the similar literature on the law and economics of the family is contracts- rather than property-based, and the author displays a tremendous knowledge of the literature in a number of related fields. It is a wonderful piece of work and an excellent addition."--Margaret F. Brinig, University of Notre Dame

"This is a very good book. The approach is valuable and insightful, and brings solid economic analysis to an institution that, I am convinced, is understudied and poorly understood. I enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it."--George P. Baker, Harvard Business School


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