Skip to main content

The Socialization of Financial Giving: A Multigenerational Exploration

Abstract

Previous research has found that family socialization influences financial giving behaviors and that financial giving predicts personal wellbeing. However, little research since the early 1980 s has explored this phenomenon, and virtually none of the research has been qualitative in nature. As part of the Whats and Hows of Family Financial Socialization project, this study employs a diverse, multi-site, multigenerational sample (N = 115) to qualitatively explore the following research question: how do children learn about financial giving from their parents? In other words, how is financial giving transmitted across generations? From interviews of emerging adults and their parents and grandparents, three core themes emerged: “Charitable Donations,” “Acts of Kindness,” and “Investments in Family.” Various topics, processes, methods, and meanings involved in this socialization are presented, along with implications and potential directions for future research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Chan, K. (2010). Father, son, wife, husband: Philanthropy as exchange and balance. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 31(3), 387–395. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-010-9205-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cowley, E. T., Paterson, J., & Williams, M. (2004). Traditional gift giving among Pacific families in New Zealand. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 25(3), 431–444.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Daly, K. J. (2007). Qualitative methods for family studies and human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Einolf, C. J., & Philbrick, D. (2014). Generous or greedy marriage? A longitudinal study of volunteering and charitable giving. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(3), 573–586. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12115.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fagin-Jones, S. (2017). Holocaust heroes: Heroic altruism of non-Jewish moral exemplars in Nazi Europe. In S. T. Allison, G. R. Goethals, R. M. Kramer, S. T. Allison, G. R. Goethals, & R. M. Kramer (Eds.), Handbook of heroism and heroic leadership (pp. 203–228). New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gagné, E. D., & Middlebrooks, M. S. (1977). Encouraging generosity: A perspective from social learning theory and research. The Elementary School Journal, 77(4), 281–291. https://doi.org/10.1086/461059.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gilbert, D. (2006). Stumbling on happiness. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gudmunson, C. G., & Danes, S. M. (2011). Family financial socialization: Theory and critical review. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32(4), 644–667. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-011-9275-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Handel, G. (1996). Family worlds and qualitative family research. Marriage and Family Review, 24, 335–348.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harbaugh, W. T., Mayr, U., & Burghart, D. R. (2007). Neural responses to taxation and voluntary giving reveal motives for charitable donations. Science, 316(5831), 1622–1625. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1140738.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jorgensen, B. L., & Savla, J. (2010). Financial literacy of young adults: The importance of parental socialization. Family Relations, 59(4), 465–478. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2010.00616.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, J., LaTaillade, J., & Kim, H. (2011). Family process and adolescents’ financial behaviors. Journal of Family Economic Issues, 32, 668–679. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-011-9270-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • LeBaron, C. (2005). Cultural identity among Mormons: A microethnographic study of Family Home Evening. In W. Leeds-Hurwitz (Ed.), From generation to generation: Maintaining cultural identity over time. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • LeBaron, A. B., Hill, E. J., Rosa, C. M., & Marks, L. D. (2018). Whats and Hows of Family Financial Socialization: Retrospective Reports of Emerging Adults, Parents, and Grandparents. Family Relations, 67(4), 497–509. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12335.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • LeBaron, A. B., Runyan, S., Jorgensen, B. L., Marks, L. D., Li, X., & Hill, E. J. (2019). Practice makes perfect: Experiential learning as a method for financial socialization. Journal of Family Issues, 40(4), 435–463. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X18812917.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lowrey, T. M., Otnes, C. C., & Ruth, J. A. (2004). Social influences on dyadic giving over time: A taxonomy from the giver’s perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, 30(4), 547–558. https://doi.org/10.1086/380288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marks, L. (2015). A pragmatic, step-by-step guide for qualitative methods: Capturing the disaster and long-term recovery stories of Katrina and Rita. Current Psychology, 34, 494–505.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marks, L. D., Dollahite, D. C., & Baumgartner, J. (2010). God we trust. Family Relations, 59(4), 439–452. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2010.00614.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marks, L. D., Rosa, C. M., LeBaron, A. B., & Hill, E. J. (2019). “It takes a village to raise a rigorous qualitative project”: Studying family financial socialization using team-based qualitative methods. SAGE Research Methods Cases. London: SAGE. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526474773.

  • Marks, L. D., Swanson, M., Nesteruk, O., & Hopkins-Williams, K. (2006). Stressors in African American marriages and families: A qualitative study. Stress, Trauma, and Crisis: An International Journal, 9, 203–225.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McAuliffe, K., Raihani, N. J., & Dunham, Y. (2017). Children are sensitive to norms of giving. Cognition, 167, 151–159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2017.01.006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ottoni-Wilhelm, M., Estell, D. B., & Perdue, N. H. (2014). Role-modeling and conversations about giving in the socialization of adolescent charitable giving and volunteering. Journal of Adolescence, 37(1), 53–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.10.010.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Palkovitz, R., Marks, L. D., Appleby, D. W., & Holmes, E. K. (2003). Parenting and adult development: Contexts, processes and products of intergenerational relationships. In L. Kucynski (Ed.), The handbook of dynamics in parent–child relations (pp. 307–323). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Paulus, M., & Moore, C. (2017). Preschoolers’ generosity increases with understanding of the affective benefits of sharing. Developmental Science, 20(3), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12417.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Prendergast, G. P., & Maggie, C. W. (2013). Donors’ experience of sustained charitable giving: A phenomenological study. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 30(2), 130–139. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363761311304942.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rosa, C. M., Marks, L. D., LeBaron, A. B., & Hill, E. J. (2018). Multigenerational modeling of money management. Journal of Financial Therapy, 9(2), 54–74. https://doi.org/10.4148/1944-9771.1164.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rushton, J. P. (1975). Generosity in children: Immediate and long-term effects of modeling, preaching, and moral judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31(3), 459–466. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0076466.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Serido, J., & Deenanath, V. (2016). Financial parenting: Promoting financial self-reliance of young consumers. Handbook of consumer finance research (2nd ed., pp. 291–300). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shim, S., Barber, B. L., Card, N. A., Xiao, J. J., & Serido, J. (2010). Financial socialization of first-year college students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, 1457–1470.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, C., & Davidson, H. (2014). The paradox of generosity: Giving we receive, grasping we lose. New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199394906.001.0001.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Sober, E., & Wilson, D. S. (2000). Summary of: ‘Unto others: The evolution and psychology of unselfish behavior’. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7(1–2), 185–206.

    Google Scholar 

  • Su, H., Chou, T., & Osborne, P. G. (2011). When financial information meets religion: Charitable-giving behavior in Taiwan. Social Behavior and Personality, 39(8), 1009–1020. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2011.39.8.1009.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tasimi, A., & Young, L. (2016). Memories of good deeds past: The reinforcing power of prosocial behavior in children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 147, 159–166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2016.03.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • VP44. (2016, February 9). I often say: Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget & I’ll tell you what you value. #POTUSBudget makes our values crystal clear [Twitter Post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/vp44/status/697132255752261632?lang=en.

  • Webley, P., & Nyhus, E. K. (2006). Parents’ influence on children’s future orientation and saving. Journal of Economic Psychology, 27, 140–164.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • White, G. M., & Burnam, M. A. (1975). Socially cued altruism: Effects of modeling, instructions, and age on public and private donations. Child Development, 46(2), 559–563. https://doi.org/10.2307/1128159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wu, S., Huang, J., & Kao, A. (2004). An analysis of the peer effects in charitable giving: The case of Taiwan. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 25(4), 483–505.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Jeff Hill, Loren Marks, and Jeff Dew for their helpful reviews of earlier drafts.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ashley B. LeBaron.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Ashley LeBaron declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

IRB approval for the research project was secured in February 2015.

Informed Consent

All participants signed a consent form prior to participation.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

LeBaron, A.B. The Socialization of Financial Giving: A Multigenerational Exploration. J Fam Econ Iss 40, 633–646 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-019-09629-z

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-019-09629-z

Keywords

  • Financial giving
  • Financial socialization
  • Generosity
  • Sharing
  • Charitable donations
  • Financial education
  • Parenting
  • Family finance
  • Emerging adults
  • Qualitative