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Fairness in the family: implications for parent-adult child interactions

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  • Ermisch, John

Abstract

This paper advances the hypothesis that transfers of contact/in-kind help and money between parents and an adult child reflect concerns for fairness and reciprocity, and may be interpreted as a ‘gift exchange’. It is inspired by recent evidence from experiments that suggests that even strangers behave in accordance with concerns for fairness and reciprocity. The implications of this hypothesis for the relationship between parents’ resources and frequency of contact/in-kind are contrasted with those of efficient exchange and family constitution models of intergenerational transfers. Empirical evidence from the British Household Panel Study provides stronger support for the gift exchange model than the efficient exchange or binding constitution models.

Suggested Citation

  • Ermisch, John, 2006. "Fairness in the family: implications for parent-adult child interactions," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-13, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2006-13
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    File URL: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/iser/2006-13.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    2. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
    3. Cigno, Alessandro, 2006. "The political economy of intergenerational cooperation," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 1999. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 106-134, February.
    5. John Ermisch & Marco Francesconi & Thomas Siedler, 2004. "Intergenerational Economic Mobility and Assortative Mating," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 448, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Cigno, Alessandro, 1993. "Intergenerational transfers without altruism : Family, market and state," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 505-518, November.
    7. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    8. 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.
    9. Kai A. Konrad & Harald Künemund & Kjell Erik Lommerud & Julio R. Robledo, 2002. "Geography of the Family," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 981-998, September.
    10. Ermisch, John & Francesconi, Marco, 2002. "Intergenerational Social Mobility and Assortative Mating in Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 465, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1989. "A Fresh Look at the Rotten Kid Theorem--and Other Household Mysteries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1138-1159, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paula C. Albuquerque, 2014. "The Interaction of Private Intergenerational Transfers Types," Working Papers Department of Economics 2014/03, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.

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