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Games Parents and Adolescents Play: Risky Behaviors, Parental Reputation, and Strategic Transfers

  • Lingxin Hao
  • V. Joseph Hotz
  • Ginger Z. Jin

This paper examines reputation formation in intra-familial interactions. We consider parental reputation in a repeated two-stage game in which adolescents decide whether to give a teen birth or drop out of high school, and given adolescent decisions, the parent decides whether to house and support his children beyond age 18. Drawing on the work of Milgrom and Roberts (1982) and Kreps and Wilson (1982), we show that the parent has, under certain conditions, the incentive to penalize older children for their teenage risky behaviors in order to dissuade the younger children from the same risky behaviors. The model generates two empirical implications: the likelihood of teen risky behaviors and parental transfers to a child who engaged in teen risky behaviors will decrease with the number of remaining children at risk. We test these two implications, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Cohort (NLSY79). Exploiting the availability of repeated observations on individual respondents and of observations on multiple siblings, we find evidence in favor of both predictions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11872.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
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Publication status: published as Hao, Lingxin, V. Joseph Hotz, and Ginger Zhe Jin. “Games Parents and Adolescents Play: Risky Behaviors, Parental Reputation, and Strategic Transfers.” Economic Journal 118, 528 (April 2008): 515–555.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11872
Note: CH
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  1. David Kreps & Robert Wilson, 1999. "Reputation and Imperfect Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 238, David K. Levine.
  2. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain The Rising Return To College For Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746, May.
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  8. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1989. "A Fresh Look at the Rotten Kid Theorem--and Other Household Mysteries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1138-59, October.
  9. Phillip B. Levine, 2001. "The Sexual Activity and Birth-Control Use of American Teenagers," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 167-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1980. "Predation, Reputation, and Entry Deterrence," Discussion Papers 427, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. Lillard, Lee A & Willis, Robert J, 1978. "Dynamic Aspects of Earning Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 985-1012, September.
  14. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  15. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1991. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," NBER Working Papers 3804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. V. Joseph Hotz & Seth G. Sanders & Susan Williams McElroy, 1999. "Teenage Childbearing and Its Life Cycle Consequences: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W, 1988. "Altruism and Time Consistency: The Economics of Fait Accompli," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1165-82, December.
  18. Frank J. Chaloupka & Michael Grossman, 1996. "Price, Tobacco Control Policies and Youth Smoking," NBER Working Papers 5740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Bruce A. Weinberg, 2001. "An Incentive Model of the Effect of Parental Income on Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 266-280, April.
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