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The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma

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  • Neil Bruce
  • Michael Waldman

Abstract

A familiar result in the economic theory of the family is Becker's rotten-kid theorem. This theorem states that altruism by a family member will lead other selfish members to act efficiently from the family viewpoint. We extend Becker's one-period model to two periods and show that parental altruism can result in an inefficiency known in other contexts as the Samaritan's dilemma. Implications of this for transfer arrangements within the family and for the Ricardian equivalence theorem are drawn.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1990. "The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 155-165.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:105:y:1990:i:1:p:155-165.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-1093, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 151-182, July.
    3. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1977. "Shakespeare vs. Becker on Altruism: The Importance of Having the Last Word," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 500-502, June.
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