NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Games Parents and Adolescents Play: Risky Behaviors, Parental Reputation, and Strategic Transfers

Lingxin Hao, V. Joseph Hotz, Ginger Z. Jin

NBER Working Paper No. 11872
Issued in December 2005
NBER Program(s):   CH

This paper examines reputation formation in intra-familial interactions. We consider parental reputation in a repeated two-stage game in which adolescents decide whether to give a teen birth or drop out of high school, and given adolescent decisions, the parent decides whether to house and support his children beyond age 18. Drawing on the work of Milgrom and Roberts (1982) and Kreps and Wilson (1982), we show that the parent has, under certain conditions, the incentive to penalize older children for their teenage risky behaviors in order to dissuade the younger children from the same risky behaviors. The model generates two empirical implications: the likelihood of teen risky behaviors and parental transfers to a child who engaged in teen risky behaviors will decrease with the number of remaining children at risk. We test these two implications, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Cohort (NLSY79). Exploiting the availability of repeated observations on individual respondents and of observations on multiple siblings, we find evidence in favor of both predictions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11872

Published: Hao, Lingxin, V. Joseph Hotz, and Ginger Zhe Jin. “Games Parents and Adolescents Play: Risky Behaviors, Parental Reputation, and Strategic Transfers.” Economic Journal 118, 528 (April 2008): 515–555.

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