The researchers found, in an experiment involving financial contributions to a group fund, that there was no statistical correlation between the actions of a child and a parent.
“An unchallenged assumption in the economic literature on values and economic outcomes is the idea that the family has an important role in transmitting these values across generations,” the researchers wrote today on the New York Fed’s Liberty Street Economics blog. “Our results provide an important piece of evidence to the contrary, which calls for further work on the issue.”
The researchers said they tested a group of students and parents from a public school in Washington, D.C., in a “public goods game.” People were put in groups, and each received money. They could keep the cash, or contribute it into a communal pot. Contributions to the pot were doubled and paid out to all members of the group, regardless of whether they contributed money.