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Learned generosity? An artefactual field experiment with parents and their children

Author

Listed:
  • Ben-Ner, Avner
  • List, John A.
  • Putterman, Louis
  • Samek, Anya

Abstract

An active area of research within the social sciences concerns the underlying motivation for sharing scarce resources and engaging in other pro-social actions. In this paper we ask: do parents model social preference behavior to children, and do children emulate this behavior? We develop a theoretical framework to examine this question, and conduct an experiment with 147 3–5 year-old children and their parents, using dictator games to measure generosity. We find (1) evidence of parental teaching/modeling in the case of fathers and in that of parents of relatively generous children, and (2) an emulation effect such that children who initially share less than half of their endowment subsequently share more the more they see a parent or other adult share. We find little correlation between baseline sharing of children and the parents, with the possible exception of the oldest children.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben-Ner, Avner & List, John A. & Putterman, Louis & Samek, Anya, 2017. "Learned generosity? An artefactual field experiment with parents and their children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 28-44.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:28-44
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.07.030
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Keywords

    Field experiment; Children; Parents; Transmission; Social preferences; Influence;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution

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