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Parental Background and Other-Regarding Preferences in Children

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.

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Paper provided by Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies in its series Working Papers IES with number 2012/10.

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Length: 46pages
Date of creation: Apr 2012
Date of revision: Apr 2012
Handle: RePEc:fau:wpaper:wp2012_10
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