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Decision Making By Children


  • Shelly Lundberg
  • Jennifer Romich
  • Kwok Ping Tsang


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Shelly Lundberg & Jennifer Romich & Kwok Ping Tsang, 2007. "Decision Making By Children," Working Papers UWEC-2007-24, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:udb:wpaper:uwec-2007-24

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. William Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund, 2002. "Risk Attitudes of Children and Adults: Choices Over Small and Large Probability Gains and Losses," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 5(1), pages 53-84, June.
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    6. 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.
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    8. 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.
    9. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Sabrina Bruyneel & Laurens Cherchye & Sam Cosaert & Bram De Rock & Siegfried Dewitte, 2012. "Are the Smart Kids More Rational ?," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2012-050, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Deborah Cobb-Clark & Tue Gørgens, 2014. "Parents’ economic support of young-adult children: do socioeconomic circumstances matter?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(2), pages 447-471, April.
    3. Katja Coneus & Andrea Mühlenweg & Holger Stichnoth, 2014. "Orphans at risk in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence on educational and health outcomes," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 641-662, December.
    4. Hans Gersbach & Hans Haller, 2012. "“Hard workers” and labor restrictions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(2), pages 469-494, January.
    5. Anyck Dauphin & Abdel‐Rahmen El Lahga & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2011. "Are Children Decision‐Makers within the Household?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(553), pages 871-903, June.
    6. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-16-00775 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Alistair Munro, 2009. "Introduction to the Special Issue: Things We Do and Don’t Understand About the Household and the Environment," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(1), pages 1-10, May.
    8. Deborah Cobb-Clark & David Ribar, 2012. "Financial stress, family relationships, and Australian youths’ transitions from home and school," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 469-490, December.
    9. Del Boca, Daniela & Monfardini, Chiara & Nicoletti, Cheti, 2012. "Self Investments of Adolescents and their Cognitive Development," IZA Discussion Papers 6868, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Begoña Álvarez & Daniel Miles-Touya, 2012. "Exploring the relationship between parents’ and children’s housework time in Spain," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 299-318, June.
    11. Ana Cardoso & Elsa Fontainha & Chiara Monfardini, 2010. "Children’s and parents’ time use: empirical evidence on investment in human capital in France, Germany and Italy," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 479-504, December.
    12. Morey, Edward & Thiene, Mara, 2012. "A parsimonious, stacked latent-class methodology for predicting behavioral heterogeneity in terms of life-constraint heterogeneity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 130-144.
    13. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Salamanca, Nicolas & Zhu, Anna, 2016. "Parenting Style as an Investment in Human Development," IZA Discussion Papers 9686, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Kaletski, Elizabeth, 2016. "Work versus School? The Effect of Work on Educational Expenditures for Children in Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 10054, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Bell, Clive & Gersbach, Hans & Schneider, Maik T., 2012. "Raising juveniles," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 32-51.
    16. Martina Kirchberger, 2014. "Preferences over Leisure and Consumption of Siblings and Intra-Household Allocation," Economics Series Working Papers 713, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    17. Holford, Angus, 2016. "Do parents tax their children? Teenage labour supply and financial support," ISER Working Paper Series 2016-05, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    18. repec:iae:iaewps:wp2016n3 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Daniela Del Boca & Chiara Monfardini & Cheti Nicoletti, 2012. "Children's and Parents' Time-Use Choices and Cognitive Development during Adolescence," Working Papers 2012-006, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth


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