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Are Values Inherited?

Marco Cipriani, Paola Giuliano and Olivier Jeanne write in Vox:

Through an experimental game in which participants had incentives to reveal their true preferences, we show that, surprisingly, there is no intergenerational transmission of public-mindedness between parents and their children.

The nature of human behaviour assumed in most economic models is based on the ‘Homo Economicus’ assumption – everyone is out for him or her self. This makes economic theory easy, or at least easier, since it minimises the joint-ness of decision making.

The ‘Homo Economicus’ assumption, however, fails rather consistently in laboratory experiments. Notions of trust and public-minded-ness turn out to be much more common in human behaviour than they are in the theory. Economic outcomes such as growth, economic development, international trade, and labour market behaviour have been shown to depend upon such values.1 Recent advances in experimental economics are developing a set of results that should help economic theorists develop models that are better able to explain real-world economic behaviour in a variety of settings.

In CEPR Policy Insight No. 9, we describe an experiment that tests whether public-minded-ness, or pro-sociality are transmitted from parents to children.

Read the Introduction at Vox >>

Read the complete report at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (PDF) >>

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Categories: Economics
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