Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

ECON351 Special Topic: Economics of Households and Wellbeing

The economics of household decision-making about marriage, divorce, fertility and labour market participation, the limitations of GDP as a measure of wellbeing, and measures of human, social and natural capital.

In 2019, New Zealand released its first Wellbeing Budget in an effort to focus on dimensions of wellbeing other than GDP. The Wellbeing Budget builds on the Government’s Living Standards Framework, which encompasses different domains of wellbeing such as health, safety, environmental amenity, housing etc. as well as institutions and the four capital stocks of financial capital, natural environment, human capability and social cohesion.

The second part of the course focuses more closely on the rapid change in family structure in New Zealand over the last decade towards greater diversity in families, including single parenthood, parents who do not live with their children but are still involved etc. Economic reasoning can help explain the dramatic changes that have occurred, both in New Zealand and around the world by analysing household decisions related to marriage, divorce, labour market participation of women etc.

Paper title Special Topic: Economics of Households and Wellbeing
Paper code ECON351
Subject Economics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $912.00
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

^ Top of page

ECON 201 or ECON 271
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Commerce, Science

Teaching staff

Dr Neha Agarwal
Dr Viktoria Kahui


Required: Saul D. Hoffman and Susan Averett (2015) Women and the Economy: Family, Work and Pay, 3rd edition, Macmillan International Higher Education (ISBN 9781137477033).

Other key readings include: NZ Treasury reports (accessible online) and chapters from a selection of other books (available via e-Reserve).

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will have developed a range of subject-specific knowledge and skills. They will be able to:

  • Discuss New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget and the Living Standards Framework
  • Describe the economic theory and evidence for human capital, financial capital and natural capital.
  • Discuss Sen’s capabilities approach.
  • Discuss the economic theory of marriage, the reasons and consequences of divorce, the relationship between marriage and the relative earnings of men and women.
  • Discuss the economic explanations for the recent trends in fertility.
  • Explain the gender gap in earnings in a variety of settings.

^ Top of page


Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system