NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Maulik Jagnani

Economic Growth Center
Department of Economics
Yale University
27 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511

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Institutional Affiliation: Yale University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

February 2020Not Playing Favorites: An Experiment on Parental Fairness Preferences
with James Berry, Rebecca Dizon-Ross: w26732
We conduct a lab-in-the-field experiment to identify parents' preferences for investing in their children. The experiment exogenously varied the short-run returns to educational investments to identify how much parents care about maximizing total household earnings, minimizing cross-sibling inequality in "outcomes" (child-level earnings), and minimizing cross-sibling inequality in "inputs" (child-level investments). We show that while parents place some weight on maximizing earnings, they also display a strong preference for equality in inputs, forgoing roughly 40% of their potential earnings or 90% of a day’s wage to equalize inputs. We find no evidence that parents care about equalizing outcomes.
 
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