nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2020‒10‒12
five papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. A Bit of Salt a Trace of Life - Gender Norms and The Impact of a Salt Iodization Program on Human Capital Formation of School Aged Children By Zichen Deng; Maarten Lindeboom
  2. Are Older People Aware of Their Cognitive Decline? Misperception and Financial Decision Making By Mazzonna, Fabrizio; Peracchi, Franco
  3. Cognitive Flexibility or Moral Commitment? Evidence of Anticipated Belief Distortion By Silvia Saccardo; Marta Serra-Garcia
  4. Parental Involvement and the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Preferences, Attitude and Personality Traits By Maria Zumbuehl; Thomas Dohmen; Gerard Pfann
  5. Gender Stereotyping in Parent's and Teacher's Perceptions of Boy's and Girl's Mathematics Performance in Ireland By Selina McCoy; Delma Byrne; Pat O Connor

  1. By: Zichen Deng (Norwegian School of Economics); Maarten Lindeboom (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
    Abstract: This paper examines the effects of a massive salt iodization program on human capital formation of school-aged children in China. Exploiting province and time variation, we find a strong positive impact on cognition for girls and no effects for boys. For non-cognitive skills, we find the opposite. We show in a simple model of parental investment that gender preferences can explain our findings. Analyses exploiting within the province, village-level variation in gender attitudes confirm the importance of parental gender preferences. Consequently, large scale programs can have positive (and possibly) unintended effects on gender equality in societies with son preference.
    Keywords: Iodine, parental investments, gender attitudes, cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills
    JEL: I15 J16 J24 O15
    Date: 2020–09–29
  2. By: Mazzonna, Fabrizio (USI Università della Svizzera Italiana); Peracchi, Franco (University of Rome Tor Vergata)
    Abstract: We investigate whether older people correctly perceive their own cognitive decline, and the potential financial consequences of misperception. First, we document the fact that older people tend to underestimate their cognitive decline. We then show that those who experienced a severe cognitive decline, but are unaware of it, are more likely to suffer wealth losses compared to those who are aware or did not experience a severe decline. These losses largely reflect decreases in financial wealth and are mainly experienced by wealthier people who were previously active on the stock market. Our findings support the view that financial losses among older people unaware of their cognitive decline are the result of bad financial decisions, not of rational disinvestment strategies.
    Keywords: aging, cognitive ability, household finance, HRS
    JEL: J14 J24 C23
    Date: 2020–09
  3. By: Silvia Saccardo; Marta Serra-Garcia
    Abstract: Do people anticipate the conditions that enable them to manipulate their beliefs when confronted with unpleasant information? We investigate whether individuals seek out the “cognitive flexibility” needed to distort beliefs in self-serving ways, or instead attempt to constrain it, committing to unbiased judgment. Experiments with 6500 participants, including financial and legal professionals, show that preferences are heterogeneous: over 40% of advisors prefer flexibility, even if costly. Actively seeking flexibility does not preclude belief distortion. Individuals anticipate the effects of cognitive flexibility and their choice to pursue it responds to incentives, suggesting some sophistication about the cognitive constraints to belief distortion.
    Keywords: belief distortion, morality, sophistication, commitment, experiments
    JEL: D83 D91 C91
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Maria Zumbuehl (CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis); Thomas Dohmen (University of Bonn, Maastricht University, IZA, DIW and CESifo); Gerard Pfann (Maastricht University, CEPR, CESifo, IZA, DIA and SOFI)
    Abstract: We empirically investigate the link between parental involvement and shaping of the economic preferences, attitudes and personality traits of their children. We exploit information on the risk and trust attitudes, the Big Five personality traits and locus of control of parents and their children, as well as rich information about parental efforts in the upbringing of their children from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study. Our results show that parents who are more involved in the upbringing of their children have children with more favourable attitudes and traits. These children rank higher in traits that further their success in life, and they are more similar to their parents in those attitudes, where the optimum level is more ambiguous.
    Keywords: Risk preferences, trust, intergenerational transmission, cultural transmission, social mobility, SOEP
    JEL: D9 Z1 J13 J62
  5. By: Selina McCoy (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin and Trinity College Dublin); Delma Byrne (National University of Ireland Maynooth and Geary Institute, University College Dublin); Pat O Connor (University of Limerick and Geary Institute, University College Dublin)
    Abstract: This paper is concerned with the underlying question of what shapes the assessment of children's mathematical ability: focusing particularly on parents' and teachers' perceptions of that ability in the context of children’s attainment (measured using standardised mathematics tests). We suggest that such perceptions may reflect the impact of gender stereotypes: overestimating boys' and underestimating girls' achievements in the area. The influence of the children's own interests, attitudes and behaviour on these gender stereotypical perceptions are also explored. The paper draws on the Growing Up in Ireland study, providing rich data on children, their families and school contexts. The results show that as early as nine years old, girls' performance at mathematics is being underestimated by teachers and primary care givers alike relative to boys'. While teacher (and parent) judgments reflect children's attitudes towards school and academic self-concept, as well as their actual performance, there remains a notable gender differential in judgements. The findings raise concerns for girls' subsequent mathematics performance and for their academic self-concept in a society where mathematics is highly valued as an indicator of intelligence. Importantly, in the context of the move towards teacher-assessed grading in many education systems during the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding, and challenging, gender-stereotyping by both parents and teachers becomes critically important.
    Keywords: Gender stereotypes; mathematics; teacher perception; parent perception; academic self-concept; academic performance
    Date: 2020–09–10

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