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Preference Formation of Children: The Role of Parents, Peers and Gender
Last registered on January 25, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Preference Formation of Children: The Role of Parents, Peers and Gender
Initial registration date
January 25, 2018
Last updated
January 25, 2018 3:34 PM EST
Primary Investigator
University of Gothenburg
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Time and other-regarding, distributional preferences are fundamental for individual and collective decision-making and are therefore affecting economic outcomes such as consumption choices, human capital formation and labor market outcomes. Empirical evidence supports the view that these preferences are formed early in life and shaped both within the family and through interaction with peers and close social environments. This project proposes a closer look at the formation of an individual (patience) and a social (otherregarding) preference at an early age of 12-13 years. By measuring preferences at parental, class and friendship level, we explore the role of the close environment in the formation of the child’s attitudes and link them to school outcomes. While both preferences are fundamental for later-life outcomes, we expect differences in peer effects due to their more or less social nature. Using the gender dimension of the close environment we can uncover potential pathways of gender-specific preference formation. To sum up the project aims to address the following main research questions:
• What is the role of parents and peers in the formation of children’s patience and distributional preferences? How does the social environment relate to gender-specific formation?
• Do children sort into preference networks? How do patience and other-regarding preferences in the social network affect child outcomes?
• Are there differences between the individual (patience) and social (other-regarding) preferences?
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Schürz, Simon. 2018. "Preference Formation of Children: The Role of Parents, Peers and Gender." AEA RCT Registry. January 25. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2682-1.0.
Former Citation
Schürz, Simon. 2018. "Preference Formation of Children: The Role of Parents, Peers and Gender." AEA RCT Registry. January 25. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2682/history/25280.
Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Experimental preference measures for patience, distributional attitudes
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
School grades, social networks measures
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experimental session is conducted with families (mother, father, one child). All subjects will participate in a patience experiment. Fathers and mothers take part in a decision-making experiment. Mothers additionally attend an experiment designed to measure their empowerment in the household. In the following the designs of all three parts are described in detail:
Patience Elicitation: Time preferences are elicited with choice lists with early and delayed payoffs or time-investment exercises. The choice lists used in the experiment additionally allow for a measure of present-biasedness. Subjects will select their preferred choice in a list of 10 decisions per decision sheet. For instance choices are made between upfront payoff of 5000 TSh and delayed payoffs between 5.000
and 10.000 TSh (1 USD ~ 2180 TSh). Starting with equal payoffs the delayed option increases monotonically. Two decision sheets are presented to the subjects in random order. After all choices are made, one list and one decision are randomly selected for payout. Particular focus is placed on trust issues related to the delayed payment option. Using the observed switching point from early to delayed payoff, the future equivalent (FE) is calculated at the midpoint of the two delayed payoffs around the switching point. Normalizing it by the early payoff results in a comparable indicator for patience. The higher the normalized future equivalent, the more impatient is the individual.
Measure for female empowerment in the household: To measure decision-weights in the household I will apply two approaches. The first part consists of a set of question on the decision-making process across various subcategories, such as food, educational expenses and financial decisions. For these questions tie-breaker questions are included to avoid bunching at the joint decision option. Additionally
women’s empowerment, i.e. their decision weight, in the household is measured using an incentivized experiment. Women’s willingness to pay to receive a cash transfer themselves rather than their spouse is directly measured. The design follows a choice list type representation of pre-specified values, for which the mother chooses that the amount is paid either to the father or to herself. The amount for the father remains constant, while the mother’s amount decreases monotonically. Full information on payouts, but not on actual experimental choices, is given to both the woman and the spouse, thereby excluding hiding motives. By randomly assigning starting values, it can be assured that spouses cannot learn about women’s choices from the payouts.
Distributional preferences: Observed economic behavior is consistent with utility functions that include both own material payoff and other’s well-being. The experimental design that we use allows to understand how payoffs for others affect an individual’s utility. Using a double choice list design with a total of 10 decisions, it allows to distinguish between nine distributional types from equality averse to altruistic and inequality averse. The subjects are asked to choose between unequal and equal distribution of payoffs for themselves and an unknown passive subject in a disadvantaged (higher payoff to the passive subject) and advantaged block (higher payoff to the active subject). The passive subject is a randomly chosen real peer in the school class the sample, but unknown to the participant. One of the choices is randomly selected for payout. Additional to the type measure we can use a willingness-to-pay cardinal metric (WTP for an income increase of the passive subject) for the disadvantaged and advantaged block, which facilitates the econometric analysis.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
no randomization, no treatment, preference experiments
Randomization Unit
no randomization, no treatment, preference experiments
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
10-15 school classes (30-40 children + their parents) from 5 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
400 families: 400 mothers, 400 farthers, 400 children
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
400 families: 400 mothers, 400 farthers, 400 children
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB Name
Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)