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How Hungry Is the Selfish Gene?

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  • Case, Anne
  • Lin, I-Fen
  • McLanahan, Sara

Abstract

We examine resource allocation in step-households in the United States and South Africa to test whether child investments vary according to economic and genetic bonds between parent and child. In the United States, households spend less on food when a child is raised by a non-biological mother. The reduction is identical for step, adoptive, and foster households, consistent with the hypothesis that genetic ties are the ones that binds. In South Africa, where food spending can be disaggregated, households spend less on milk, fruit and vegetables, and more on tobacco and alcohol, in the absence of a child's birth mother.

Suggested Citation

  • Case, Anne & Lin, I-Fen & McLanahan, Sara, 2000. "How Hungry Is the Selfish Gene?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 781-804, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:110:y:2000:i:466:p:781-804
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 143-162, August.
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    4. Behrman, Jere R & Pollak, Robert A & Taubman, Paul, 1982. "Parental Preferences and Provision for Progeny," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 52-73, February.
    5. Bergstrom, Theodore C., 1993. "A survey of theories of the family," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 21-79, Elsevier.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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