Cultural and Institutional Environment and Other-Regarding Preferences

NIW Discussion Paper No. 4

John Katrin und Stephan L. Thomsen

April 2013 / Revised Version: April 2014

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We analyze other-regarding preferences elicited in dictator, ultimatum and public goods games for German children and adolescents aged 10 to 18. While most subjects exhibit either altruistic or social welfare preferences, strictly self-regarding individuals are rare. Besides a distinct increase of pro-social behavior with age, we find important environmental differences. Pupils in East Germany more frequently exhibit other-regarding behavior than pupils in West Germany. Moreover, secondary school pupils more often display social welfare preferences than grammar school children. Hence, beyond the developmental aspect environment has an important influence on the volatility of social preferences of children.