Altruism and Exchange in Intergenerational Transfers: The Demand for Children Emergency Room Articles uri icon

publication date

  • January 2013

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 9


  • 1


  • 4

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2152-7245

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2152-7261


  • In this paper, we analyze the role of income as a determinant of parents' care for children. We show that the answer depends on whether Altruism or Exchange motives are the factors that explain intergenerational transfers. We then de-velop a test to discriminate between these alternatives. Unlike previous approaches, this test focuses on measures of parents' efforts on child care that are essentially non-monetary. Using data from the United States, we find a negative relationship between family income and the frequency of children's emergency room utilization which cannot be ex-plained by several alternative controlling factors. In our framework, this is interpreted as evidence against the null of prominently altruistic behavior.


  • intergenerational transfers; altruism; infant health demand