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Economic Preferences Across Generations: Identifying Family Clusters from a Large-scale Experiment

March 14, 2019

Kuala Lumpur World Bank-University of Malaya Joint Seminar

  • Economic preferences – like time, risk and social preferences – have been shown to be very influential for real-life outcomes, such as educational achievements, labor market outcomes, or health status. We contribute to the recent literature that has examined how and when economic preferences are formed, putting particular emphasis on the role of intergenerational transmission of economic preferences within families in Bangladesh. Our paper is the first to run incentivized experiments with fathers and mothers and their children by drawing on a unique dataset of 1,999 members of Bangladeshi families, including 911 children, aged 6-17 years, and 544 pairs of mothers and fathers. We find a large degree of intergenerational persistence as the economic preferences of mothers and fathers are significantly positively related to their children’s economic preferences. Importantly, we find that socio-economic status of a family has no explanatory power as soon as we control for parents’ economic preferences. A series of robustness checks deals with the role of older siblings, the similarity of parental preferences, and the average preferences within a child’s village. We can also classify whole families into one of two clusters with either relatively patient, risk-tolerant and pro-social members or relatively impatient, risk averse and spiteful members – and show that socio-economic background variables can explain whether a family belongs to the one or the other cluster.

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  • Dr Klaus F. Zimmermann

    Dr Klaus F. Zimmermann is Full Professor of Economics at Bonn University (em.), Co-Director of POP at UNU-MERIT and the President of the Global Labor Organization (GLO). He is also an Honorary Professor at Maastricht University, Free University of Berlin and Renmin University of China, Beijing; Member, German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Regional Science Academy, and Academia Europaea, the European Academy of Sciences, and Chair of its Section for Economics, Business and Management Sciences. Previous Professorships and visits (among others) include positions at Macquarie University, University of Melbourne, Princeton University, Harvard University, Munich University, Dartmouth College, Kyoto University and University of Pennsylvania. Professor Zimmermann is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and fellowships such as the Distinguished John G. Diefenbaker Award 1998 of the Canada Council for the Arts; Outstanding Contribution Award 2013 of the European Investment Bank. Rockefeller Foundation Policy Fellow 2017; Eminent Research Scholar Award 2017, Australia; EBES Fellow Award 2018 of the Eurasia Business and Economics Society. He is the Founding Director of Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    Professor Zimmermann has published 53 books, 168 papers in refereed research journals, 152 chapters in collected volumes, 11 contributions to handbooks and encyclopaedias, 113 contributions to policy journals and reports and 517 media pieces. He is currently associated with a number of international peer reviewed journals. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Population Economics and on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Manpower, Research in Labor Economics and Comparative Economic Studies, among others. Previously he was the Managing Editor of "Economic Policy" and on the Editorial Board of Journal of Applied Econometrics, Labour Economics and European Economic Review. Professor Zimmermann is committed to the diffusion of research to policy and society, writes regularly in leading international media and advises governments, the European Commission and the World Bank on labor market and migration issues. 



  • WHEN: Thursday, March 14, 2019; 12:30 -2:00PM
  • WHERE: DK4, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, March 13, 2019