Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data
What is the basic economic decision-making unit? Is it the household or the extended family? This question is fundamental to economic analysis and policy design. The answer given by the Life Cycle and Keynesian models is that the economic unit is the household. According to these models, members of particular households act selfishly and do not fully share resources with extended family members in other households. Hence, altering the distribution of resources across households within the extended family will alter the consumption and labor supply of those households who acquire or lose resources. In contrast to the Life Cycle and Keynesian models, the altruism model implies that the extended family is the basic economic decision-making unit. According to this model the extended family is linked through altruism and, as a result, acts as if it fully shares resources. In the altruism model nondistortionary changes in the distribution of resources across households within the extended family will have no effect on the consumption or labor supply of any of its members. Despite its importance, the boundaries of economic decision-making units have not, to our knowledge, been examined directly with micro data. Stated differently, the altruism model has not been tested against the Life Cycle and Keynesian alternatives with such data. This paper uses matched data on parents and their adult children, contained in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, to perform such a test. In essence our test asks whether the distribution of consumption and labor supply across households within the extended family depends on the distribution of resources across households within the extended family. Our findings provide quite strong evidence against the altruism model. The distribution of resources across households within the extended family is a highly significant (statistically and economically) determinant of the distribution of onsumption within the extended family. This finding holds for the entire sample as well as the subsample consisting of rich parents and poor children. In addition to showing that the distribution of extended family resources matters for extended family consumption, we test the life cycle model by asking whether only own resources matter, i.e., whether the resources of extended family members have no affect on a household's consumption. Our results indicate that extended family member resources have, at most, a modest effect on household consumption after one has controlled for the fact that extended family resources help predict a household's own permanent income.
|Date of creation:||Jul 1989|
|Publication status:||published as American Economic Review, Vol. 82, No. 5, pp. 1177-1198, (December 1992).|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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 1165-1182, December.
- Townsend, Robert M, 1994.
"Risk and Insurance in Village India,"
Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-591, May.
- Robert M. Townsend, "undated". "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 91-3a, Chicago - Population Research Center.
- Townsend, R.M., 1991. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 91-3, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
- Bruce, Neil & Waldman, Michael, 1991. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Nonpaternalistic," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1345-1351, December.
- Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1988. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Non-Paternalistic," UCLA Economics Working Papers 532, UCLA Department of Economics.
- 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..
- Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- repec:hoo:wpaper:e-89-16 is not listed on IDEAS
- Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-543, May.
- Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Razin, Assaf & Rosenthal, Robert W, 1990. "A Strategic Altruism Model in Which Ricardian Equivalence Does Not Hold," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1261-1268, December.
- Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Assaf Razin & Robert W. Rosenthal, 1988. "A Strategic Altruism Model In Which Ricardian Equivalence Does Not Hold," NBER Working Papers 2699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Andrew B. Abel & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1988. "Does the Consumption of Different Age Groups Move Together? A New Nonparametric Test of Intergenerational Altruism," NBER Working Papers 2490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bernheim, B Douglas & Bagwell, Kyle, 1988. "Is Everything Neutral?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 308-338, April.
- B. Douglas Bernheim & Kyle Bagwell, 1986. "Is Everything Neutral?," NBER Working Papers 2086, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David E. Altig & Steven J. Davis, 1989. "Altruism, borrowing constraints, and social security," Working Paper 8918, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Dissaving after Retirement: Testing the Pure Life Cycle Hypothesis," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 237-280 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- B. Douglas Bernheim, 1984. "Dissaving After Retirement: Testing the Pure Life Cycle Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John H. Cochrane, 1988. "A Test of Consumption Insurance," NBER Working Papers 2642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1990. "The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 155-165.
- Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1986. "The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma," Working Papers 650, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
- Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1986. "The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma," UCLA Economics Working Papers 402, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Boskin, Michael J. & Kotlikoff, Laurence J., 1985. "Public debt and United States saving: A new test of the neutrality hypothesis," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 55-86, January.
- Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "Tests for Liquidity Constraints: A Critical Survey," NBER Working Papers 1720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Assaf Razin, 1988. "Making Bequests Without Spoiling Children: Bequests as an Implicit Optimal Tax Structure and the Possibility That Altruistic Bequests are not Equaliz," NBER Working Papers 2735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1987. "Justifying Public Provision of Social Security," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(4), pages 674-696.
- Blundell, Richard William, 1987. "Econometric Approaches to the Specification of Life-Cycle Labour Supply and Commodity Demand Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 150, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3046. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.