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Decision-Making by Children

  • Lundberg, Shelly


    (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Romich, Jennifer


    (University of Washington)

  • Tsang, Kwok P.


    (University of Washington)

In this paper, we examine the determinants of decision-making power by children and young adolescents. Moving beyond previous economic models that treat children as goods consumed by adults rather than agents, we develop a noncooperative model of parental control of child behavior and child resistance. Using child reports of decision-making and psychological and cognitive measures from the NLSY79 Child Supplement, we examine the determinants of shared and sole decision-making in seven domains of child activity. We find that the determinants of sole decision-making by the child and shared decision-making with parents are quite distinct: sharing decisions appears to be a form of parental investment in child development rather than a simple stage in the transfer of authority. In addition, we find that indicators of child capability and preferences affect reports of decision-making authority in ways that suggest child demand for autonomy as well as parental discretion in determining these outcomes.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2952.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics of the Household, 2009, 7 (1), 1-30
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2952
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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund, 1999. "Risk attitudes of children and adults: choices over small and large probability gains and losses," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 1999-2, University of Oregon Economics Department.
  3. repec:oup:qjecon:v:105:y:1990:i:1:p:155-65 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Kate Krause & Timothy Berry & William Harbaugh, 2001. "Garp for kids: On the development of rational choice behavior," Artefactual Field Experiments 00056, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Das, Marcel & van Soest, Arthur, 1999. "A panel data model for subjective information on household income growth," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 409-426, December.
  6. Burton, Peter & Phipps , Shelley & Curtis, Lori, 2005. "All in the Family: A Simultaneous Model of Parenting Style and Child Conduct," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005261e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  7. repec:oup:restud:v:47:y:1980:i:1:p:225-38 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. 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.
  9. Mette Ejrnæs & Claus Chr. Pörtner, 2002. "Birth Order and the Intrahousehold Allocation of Time and Education," CAM Working Papers 2002-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  10. Pollak, Robert A, 1988. "Tied Transfers and Paternalistic Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 240-44, May.
  11. Shelly Lundberg & Jennifer Romich & Kwok Ping Tsang, 2007. "Independence Giving or Autonomy Taking? Childhood Predictors of Decision-Making Patterns Between Young Adolescents and Parents," Working Papers UWEC-2007-23, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  12. McElroy, Marjorie B, 1985. "The Joint Determination of Household Membership and Market Work: The Case of Young Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 293-316, July.
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