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Are parents altruistic? Evidence from Mexico

An Erratum to this article was published on 10 July 2010


Are parents altruistic or selfish? We contribute to the continuing debate of this question by proposing a simple test which is implemented using experimental data from the Mexican anti-poverty programme PROGRESA. Benefit eligibility is randomised. Our estimation strategy explicitly addresses potentially confounding factors and selection bias problems. We reject selfishness of parents in non-urban Mexico as PROGRESA beneficiaries spend more on child-related goods and do not increase spending on adult-related goods compared to parents in the control group. At the same time, we reject some rival theories.

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Correspondence to Jackline Wahba.

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Responsible editor: Deborah Cobb-Clark

An erratum to this article can be found at

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Schluter, C., Wahba, J. Are parents altruistic? Evidence from Mexico. J Popul Econ 23, 1025–1046 (2010).

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  • Parental altruism
  • Poor households

JEL Classification

  • D12
  • D64
  • I38