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Support Networks within the Family As a Public Good Problem

  • Schoeni, R.F.

his paper examines altruism and exchange models of familial relationships. It first examines the predictions of these models when there are more than two family members, demonstrating that altruism with multiple altruists is similar to the classic public good model. The paper also examines predictions of the altruism model under the assumption that the child acts strategically. It is traditionally assumed that parents unilaterally determine the amount of assistance they provide to their child. However, if one allows strategic behavior by the child, the classic prediction of complete neutralization of redistributive policies does not hold. Empirical analyses do not overwhelmingly support either of the two models; other motivations are likely to be important.

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Paper provided by RAND - Labor and Population Program in its series Papers with number 00-06.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:randlp:00-06
Contact details of provider: Postal: RAND, Labor and Population Program, 1700 Main Street, P.O. Box 2138 Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138.
Phone: (310) 393-0411, x7359
Fax: 310-393-4818
Web page: http://www.rand.org/labor.htmlEmail:


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  1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  2. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1997. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1121-66, December.
  3. Bernheim, B Douglas & Bagwell, Kyle, 1988. "Is Everything Neutral?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 308-38, April.
  4. Cox, Donald & Rank, Mark R, 1992. "Inter-vivos Transfers and Intergenerational Exchange," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 305-14, May.
  5. Donald Cox & Fredric Raines, 1985. "Interfamily Transfers and Income Redistribution," NBER Chapters, in: Horizontal Equity, Uncertainty, and Economic Well-Being, pages 393-426 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  7. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
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