Why Do Parents Socialize Their Children to Behave Pro-Socially? An Information-Based Theory

14 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2009  

Fabrizio Adriani

SOAS University of London

Silvia Sonderegger

University of Bristol - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 13, 2009

Abstract

We present a model of intergenerational transmission of pro-social values in which parents have information about relevant characteristics of society that is not directly available to their children. Differently from existing models of cultural transmission of values (such as Bisin and Verdier, 2001, and Tabellini, 2008) we assume that parents are exclusively concerned with their children's material welfare. If parents coordinate their educational choices, a child would look at her system of values to predict the values of her contemporaries, with whom she may interact. A parent may thus choose to instil pro-social values into his child in order to signal to her that others can generally be trusted. This implies that parents may optimally decide to endow their children with values that stand in contrast with maximization of material welfare, even if their children's material welfare is all they care about.

Keywords: Intergenerational Transmission, Signaling, Values

JEL Classification: D64, D82, H41, Z13

Suggested Citation

Adriani, Fabrizio and Sonderegger, Silvia, Why Do Parents Socialize Their Children to Behave Pro-Socially? An Information-Based Theory (February 13, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1342591 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1342591

Fabrizio Adriani (Contact Author)

SOAS University of London ( email )

Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square: College Buildings 541
London, WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

Silvia Sonderegger

University of Bristol - Department of Economics ( email )

8 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 ITN
United Kingdom

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