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Gambling on Genes: Ambiguity Aversion Explains Investment in Sisters’ Children

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  • Brishti Guha

    ()
    (Singapore Management University, School of Economics)

Abstract

Many men invest in their sisters’ children instead of their wives’. Existing theories addressing such behavior depend on the level of paternity probability in such men’s societies being implausibly low. I link this anthropologically observed investment behavior with the experimentally observed phenomenon that some individuals are ambiguity averse. Arguing that men’s decisions are made under ambiguity, I show that an increase in ambiguity aversion results in investment in sisters’, rather than wives’, children. I show that this can happen even under risk neutrality. I also consider the special cases of a SEU maximizer and of extreme ambiguity aversion in the Gilboa-Schmeidler sense. Extremely ambiguity averse individuals invest in sister’s children regardless of risk preference or actual paternity rates. An increase in ambiguity, rather than an increase in ambiguity aversion, in contrast, may affect the investment decision either way. When sufficiently many men are ambiguity averse, inheritance norms could become avuncular, affecting women’s incentives and generating a bias towards actual nonpaternity. This is consistent with, but represents an unusual explanation of, data which show correlations between inheritance norms and actual paternity rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Singapore Management University, School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 33-2012.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Publication status: Published in SMU Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:siu:wpaper:33-2012

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  1. Eichberger, Jürgen & Kelsey, David, 2008. "Are the Treasures of Game Theory Ambiguous?," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 08-08, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  2. Scott Condie & Jayant Ganguli, 2011. "Informational efficiency with ambiguous information," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 229-242, October.
  3. Bishai, David & Grossbard, Shoshana, 2007. "Far Above Rubies: The Association Between Bride Price and Extramarital Sexual Relations in Uganda," IZA Discussion Papers 2982, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  5. Han Ozsoylev & Jan Werner, 2011. "Liquidity and asset prices in rational expectations equilibrium with ambiguous information," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 469-491, October.
  6. John Dickhaut & Radhika Lunawat & Kira Pronin & Jack Stecher, 2011. "Decision making and trade without probabilities," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 275-288, October.
  7. Lena Edlund, 2006. "Marriage: Past, Present, Future?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(4), pages 621-639, December.
  8. Korn, Evelyn, 2000. " On the Formation of Family Structures," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(3-4), pages 357-72, December.
  9. Dominiak, Adam & Schnedler, Wendelin, 2010. "Attitudes towards Uncertainty and Randomization: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 0494, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  10. Johanna Etner & Meglena Jeleva & Jean‐Marc Tallon, 2012. "Decision Theory Under Ambiguity," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(2), pages 234-270, 04.
  11. Dirk Bethmann & Michael Kvasnicka, 2011. "The institution of marriage," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 1005-1032, July.
  12. Simone Cerreia-Vioglio & Paolo Ghirardato & Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci & Marciano Siniscalchi, 2010. "Rational Preferences under Ambiguity," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 169, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  13. Lena Edlund & Evelyn Korn, 2002. "A Theory of Prostitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 181-214, February.
  14. Diamond, Arthur M, Jr & Locay, Luis, 1989. "Investment in Sister's Children as Behavior towards Risk," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(4), pages 719-35, October.
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