Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Motive for baby bonus explained?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-08-08

Browsing through VoxEU again, I saw something that might explain the motives behind the baby bonus, and perhaps China’s population policy.  (OK, I’m being a bit sarcastic).  The VoxEU researchers tried to demonstrate "public-mindedness" economics values from parent to child, found zero correlation there, but found co-operation and public-mindedness in children (particularly young female children) from small families, with large families producing less co-operative kids.

So, Costello’s mantra is really "one for mum, one for dad and one for the liberal party vote down the track".  Silly me, I thought it was to keep consumer spending up and support our militaristic ambitions: "one for mum, one for dad and one to die for the country".

Weirdly, the short version of the paper has the forbidding title "Experimental results on the inter-generational transmission of economic values" while the the longer (but still not too technical) version has the friendly title "How You Don’t Play Like Your Kid And Why It Matters".

So, the little darlings played a simple economic game:

  • Each has tokens
  • They can put 0 or more tokens in the "pot"
  • Other kids don’t know what you put in
  • Whatever is in the pot is doubled, then distributed evenly among all players

Whether the parent was a stingy capitalist or a generous socialist didn’t make any difference to the public-mindedness of the children, but there were some value-transmission channels:

  • boys are less cooperative than girls;
  • older children are less cooperative than younger ones; and
  • above all, children from larger families tended to contribute significantly less than children from smaller ones.

So, the idea of having lots of kids in a family to "teach sharing" gets thrown out the window.  Single-child families breed good little socialists, lots of kids in the family breeds grasping capitalists.

What’s a good Roman Catholic communist to do?


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