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Reciprocity in young children

  • Dahlman, Sandra

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Ljungqvist, Pontus

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Johannesson, Magnus

    ()

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

Reciprocal behavior, the rewarding of kind acts and the punishment of unkind acts, is relatively well established among adults. We test if reciprocal behavior exists already among children 3-8 years old. Three simple anonymous allocation games are conducted with 242 children. In a first stage, half of the children decide whether to give a bag of raisin to another anonymous child or not. The three games differ in terms of the cost of giving and the relative difference in payoffs. In a second stage the roles are reversed between the two children to test for reciprocal behavior. We find reciprocal behavior in all three games with highly significant effects for two of the three games. Furthermore, the degree of reciprocity tends to increase with age. The effect of reciprocity is not significant among 3-5 year old children, whereas the effect is highly significant in all three games for 6-8 year olds.

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Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 674.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 26 Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0674
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  1. John A. List, 2006. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-37, February.
  2. Sutter, Matthias & Kocher, Martin G., 2007. "Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 364-382, May.
  3. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. J.Keith Murnighan & MIchael Saxon, 1998. "Ultimatum bargaining by children and adults," Artefactual Field Experiments 00100, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Murnighan, J. Keith & Saxon, Michael Scott, 1998. "Ultimatum bargaining by children and adults," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 415-445, August.
  7. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy R. Berry, 2001. "GARP for Kids: On the Development of Rational Choice Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1539-1545, December.
  8. Harbaugh, William T & Krause, Kate, 2000. "Children's Altruism in Public Good and Dictator Experiments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(1), pages 95-109, January.
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