Consistency of Prosocial Behavior and Cognitive Skills: Evidence from Children in El Salvador
43 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2022
Date Written: December 1, 2021
We investigate the consistency of prosocial behaviors in response to changes in the in- stitutional setting of a lab-in-the-field experiment involving primary school students in El Salvador. Students play variants of the dictator game allowing the option to take and with relative unequal initial endowments. We exploit within-subject variation and find that children are sensitive to the enlargement of the choice-set, with a significant drop in the offers when the take option becomes available. Higher cognitive skills are systematically associated with higher levels of prosociality and lower sensitivity to changes in the choice set. However they do not correlate with responses to relative unequal initial endowments. Children, irrespective of their cognitive skills levels, care about equality and converge to a similar split of the final payoff, regardless of the initial inequality in the endowment, consistent with inequality aver- sion. The relationship between individual traits in childhood and the degree of consistency of prosocial behaviors appears to vary depending on the type of institutional change in the dictator game.
Keywords: prosocial behavior, preference consistency, choice-set, cognitive skills, inequality aversion, El Salvador
JEL Classification: D91, C91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation