Topic: Implicit Contract Commitment: The Motives for Son Preference, Filial Piety, and Grandson Preference

Speaker: WeiguangDENG (Department of Economics, Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Time: 10:30am-12:00pm, Dec. 25 (Wed.), 2013

Venue:S.T.Wu Conference Room, Lingnan Hall

Language: English



We develop a theoretical framework to explore how people enforce implicit contracts. By introducing the production function of the emotional relationship and assuming sons are the main support forces of the elder parents, we provide several strategies to identify the motives for son preference, filial piety, and grandson preference. Our altruism-assumption and selfishness-assumption models suggest that first, to enhance the contract value and to enforce the implicit contract are two possible motives for son preference; second, one of motives behind filial piety is to gain children’s support in old age; third, grandson preference reflects that the old intends to reinforce the implicit contract by providing increased support to the middle who is more in need of help. However, the selfish parents have stronger son preference and are more efficiently to be stimulated by the son to provide support to grandparents than the altruistic parents, and the selfish grandparents do not necessarily have stronger grandson preference than the altruistic grandparents. We also propose several methods to identify the motives behind family behaviors in empirical studies. Using two Chinese twins datasets, we find that first, parents invest more resources on theson rather than the daughter; second, the male child can motivate his/her parents to demonstrate their filial piety to grandparents; third, individuals with sons can obtain added transfers from parents.


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