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A theory of gender differences in parental altruism

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  • Mukesh Eswaran
  • Ashok Kotwal

Abstract

We offer a theory of gender differences in parental altruism based on the asymmetry that female fertility is constrained but male fertility is relatively unconstrained. Modelling human preferences as having been shaped during the Pleistocene, we derive evolutionarily stable, co-evolved male and female preferences for altruism towards one's children. We demonstrate that there would be gender differences in parental altruism that depend on the relative abundance or scarcity of resources and the importance and substitutability of parental inputs in promoting the survival of offspring. The results point to greater altruism in females, under plausible conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Mukesh Eswaran & Ashok Kotwal, 2004. "A theory of gender differences in parental altruism," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(4), pages 918-950, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:37:y:2004:i:4:p:918-950
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    7. Bruno S. Frey & David A. Savage & Benno Torgler, 2011. "Behavior under Extreme Conditions: The Titanic Disaster," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 209-222, Winter.
    8. Masahiro Hori & Nahoko Mitsuyama & Satoshi Shimizutani, 2016. "New Evidence on Intra-Household Allocation of Resources in Japanese Households," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 77-95, March.
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    10. Ringdal, Charlotte & Sjursen, Ingrid Hoem, 2017. "Household bargaining and spending on children: Experimental evidence from Tanzania," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 19/2017, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
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    13. De Fraja, Gianni, 2006. "The Origin of Utility," CEPR Discussion Papers 5859, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • P46 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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