, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 217-249
Date: 05 Oct 2012

On the intergenerational transmission of preferences

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Recent contributions in economics have argued for a re-introduction of preference-based approaches to economic behavior and have called for an empirical investigation of preferences in order to overcome the prevalent skepticism against such explanations within the discipline. The present paper contributes to this discussion by assessing the extent, specificity, and malleability of preference transmission from parents to their children, and thus provides evidence for the clustering of preferences along family lines. Using data on eight activity choices from the British Household Panel Survey, we find strong (and positive) correlations between preferences of parents and their adult children. These correlations are found to be robust to a wide number of robustness checks but to vary considerably across activities, suggesting that parents may have more influence over some preferences than over others. Further investigations also show that this influence is surprisingly robust to a wide number of potentially intervening factors.