NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Parenting with Style: Altruism and Paternalism in Intergenerational Preference Transmission

Matthias Doepke, Fabrizio Zilibotti

NBER Working Paper No. 20214
Issued in June 2014
NBER Program(s):   CH   DEV   EFG

We develop a theory of parent-child relations that rationalizes the choice between alternative parenting styles (as set out in Baumrind 1967). Parents maximize an objective function that combines Beckerian altruism and paternalism towards children. They can affect their children’s choices via two channels: either by influencing children’s preferences or by imposing direct restrictions on their choice sets. Different parenting styles (authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive) emerge as equilibrium outcomes and are affected both by parental preferences and by the socioeconomic environment. Parenting style, in turn, feeds back into the children’s welfare and economic success. The theory is consistent with the decline of authoritarian parenting observed in industrialized countries and with the greater prevalence of more permissive parenting in countries characterized by low inequality.

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This paper was revised on February 12, 2017

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20214

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