Not Playing Favorites: An Experiment on Parental Fairness Preferences

65 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2020

See all articles by James Berry

James Berry

University of Delaware - Economics

Rebecca Dizon-Ross

University of Chicago

Maulik Jagnani

Cornell University, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

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Date Written: February 2020

Abstract

We conduct a lab-in-the-field experiment to identify parents' preferences for investing in their children. The experiment exogenously varied the short-run returns to educational investments to identify how much parents care about maximizing total household earnings, minimizing cross-sibling inequality in "outcomes" (child-level earnings), and minimizing cross-sibling inequality in "inputs" (child-level investments). We show that while parents place some weight on maximizing earnings, they also display a strong preference for equality in inputs, forgoing roughly 40% of their potential earnings or 90% of a day’s wage to equalize inputs. We find no evidence that parents care about equalizing outcomes.

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Suggested Citation

Berry, James and Dizon-Ross, Rebecca and Jagnani, Maulik, Not Playing Favorites: An Experiment on Parental Fairness Preferences (February 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26732. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3535322

James Berry (Contact Author)

University of Delaware - Economics ( email )

Newark, DE 19716
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/econjimberry/

Rebecca Dizon-Ross

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Maulik Jagnani

Cornell University, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

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