A Kantian-Economic Approach to Altruism in the Household

6 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2015

See all articles by Mark D. White

Mark D. White

CUNY College of Staten Island

Date Written: March 2015


Economists who study the family acknowledge the importance of altruism and resource allocation that occurs between family members, and have developed a number of novel approaches to modelling this behaviour. This article suggests a new method, based on the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant, which will highlight several unique features of intrafamily altruism. After summarizing Kant’s ethics and how it can be incorporated into the standard economic model of choice, I show how Kantian concepts of perfect and imperfect duty cast the standard models of intrafamily altruism and resource allocation in a new light. The inclusion of duty into the modelling explains how altruistic behaviour can continue when the affection has left a marriage, and blurs the lines between cooperative and non-cooperative models of resource allocation by highlighting the importance of binding commitment without external enforcement.

Suggested Citation

White, Mark D., A Kantian-Economic Approach to Altruism in the Household (March 2015). Palgrave Communications, Vol. 1, pp. 15005-, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2647149 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palcomms.2015.5

Mark D. White (Contact Author)

CUNY College of Staten Island ( email )

Staten Island, NY
United States

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