The economic behavior of children

Yes, there is a whole web site about the economic behavior of children.

Here is one of the listed abstracts:

We study the development of bargaining behavior in children age 7 through 18, using ultimatum and dictator games. We find bargaining behavior changes substantially with age and that most of this change appears to be related to changes in preferences for fairness, rather than bargaining ability. Younger children make smaller dictator proposals than older children, and they also make and accept smaller ultimatum proposals. Even young children seem to be quite strategic in their behavior. Boys claim to be more aggressive bargainers than girls do, but they are not. We also find a relative height effect: within each experimental group, taller children make much smaller dictator offers. Since gender and height are correlated, height alone explains part of the gender effects. We argue that the existence of systematic differences in bargaining behavior across age supports the argument that culture is a determinant of economic behavior, and suggests that people acquire this culture during childhood. We argue that the height differences indicate that forces other than culture are also important.

In other words, we learn our sense of fairness, and unfairness, over time. And boys aren’t so tough after all, although they pretend to be. Here is the original paper. And thanks to Ben Muse for the pointer.

Another piece listed on the web site has the rather sinister title: “Economic Experiments You Can Perform at Home On Your Children”. Scary, no? They could have at least referred to experiments “with” your children.

And while we are on the topic, a hearty congratulations to Eugene Volokh, legal scholar and blogger extraordinaire, new father of a splendid baby boy, yes the link is a lovely photo.


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