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A theory of gender differences in parental altruism

Mukesh Eswaran () and Ashok Kotwal ()

Canadian Journal of Economics, 2004, vol. 37, issue 4, 918-950

Abstract: We offer a theory of gender differences in parental altruism based on the asymmetry that female fertility is constrained but male fertility is relatively unconstrained. Modelling human preferences as having been shaped during the Pleistocene, we derive evolutionarily stable, co-evolved male and female preferences for altruism towards one's children. We demonstrate that there would be gender differences in parental altruism that depend on the relative abundance or scarcity of resources and the importance and substitutability of parental inputs in promoting the survival of offspring. The results point to greater altruism in females, under plausible conditions.

JEL-codes: D64 J16 P46 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004
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