Consistency of Prosocial Behavior and Cognitive Skills: Evidence from Children in El Salvador

43 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2022

See all articles by Jacopo Bonan

Jacopo Bonan

Polytechnic University of Milan - Politecnico di Milano, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Students; RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment

Sergiu Burlacu

FBK-IRVAPP

Arianna Galliera

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan

Date Written: December 1, 2021

Abstract

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

Bonan, Jacopo and Burlacu, Sergiu and Galliera, Arianna, Consistency of Prosocial Behavior and Cognitive Skills: Evidence from Children in El Salvador (December 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3975429 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3975429

Jacopo Bonan (Contact Author)

Polytechnic University of Milan - Politecnico di Milano, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Students ( email )

Via Lambruschini 4C - building 26/A
Milano, 20156
United States

RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment ( email )

c/o BASE
Via Bergognone 34
Milan, 20144
Italy

Sergiu Burlacu

FBK-IRVAPP ( email )

via Santa Croce 77
Trento, 38122
Italy

Arianna Galliera

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan ( email )

Largo Gemelli, 1
Via Necchi 9
Milan, MI 20123
Italy

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