Intergenerational Transmission of Luck/Effort Beliefs: Strategic Rather than Truthful

11 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2023 Last revised: 10 Oct 2023

See all articles by Manja Gartner

Manja Gartner

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Johanna Mollerstrom

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

David Seim

Stockholm University; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: February 22, 2023

Abstract

An individual’s beliefs about whether luck or effort determine how economically successful people are in life (luck/effort beliefs) are central for how she views society. In general, a person who thinks that luck is relatively more important than effort accepts less inequality, wants more economic redistribution and supports a larger welfare state. We study the transmission of luck/effort beliefs from parents to children. By means of a representative survey of the Swedish population, matched to administrative data, we document that the vast majority of parents teach their children not only that effort is crucial for economic success, but that effort is more important than what the parent themselves actually believe it to be. As stronger beliefs in effort are associated with a lower demand for redistribution, this misleading of children on behalf of parents may contribute to rising inequality acceptance in society.

Keywords: inequality, redistribution, social mobility, survey

Suggested Citation

Gartner, Manja and Mollerstrom, Johanna and Seim, David, Intergenerational Transmission of Luck/Effort Beliefs: Strategic Rather than Truthful (February 22, 2023). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 23-13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4366569 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4366569

Manja Gartner

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Johanna Mollerstrom (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

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

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

David Seim

Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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