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Parental Background and Other-Regarding Preferences in Children

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Abstract

Other-regarding preferences are important for establishing and maintaining cooperative outcomes. In this paper, we study how formation of other-regarding preferences during childhood is affected by parental background. Our subjects, aged 4-12 years, are classified into other-regarding types based on simple binary choice dictator games. The main finding is that children of parents with low education are more spiteful, more selfish and less altruistic. This link is robust to controlling for a rich set of child characteristics and class fixed effects. The parental effects stand out against the overall development of preferences, as we find children to become less spiteful and more altruistic with increasing age. Our findings, complemented by an analysis of the World Values Survey data, suggest that low socio-economic status affects parental effort invested in instilling other-regarding preferences into children, making them less likely to acquire cooperative types of preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilová & Barbara Pertold-Gebicka, 2012. "Parental Background and Other-Regarding Preferences in Children," Working Papers IES 2012/10, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Apr 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:fau:wpaper:wp2012_10
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    Keywords

    other-regarding preferences; altruism; spite; children; family background; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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