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Pierluigi Conzo- Duke University

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Thursday, March 01, 2018
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3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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Pierluigi Conzo
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DUPRI Seminar SeriesDemography of Aging Seminar

TITLE: Blessed are the first: The long-term effect of birth order on trust

ABSTRACT: The renewed interest by the economic literature in the effect of birth order on children's outcomes has neglected trust as a long-term output of familial environment. Acknowledging childhood as a crucial stage of life for the formation of long-term social preferences, we go deeper into the early-life determinants of trust, a widely recognized driver of socio-economic success. We analyse if and how differences in the order of birth predict heterogeneous self-reported trust levels in Britain. We draw hypotheses from psychology, economics and sociology, and empirically test alternative explanations to the association between birth order and trust. Relying on an index measuring birth order independently from sibship size, we find a negative and a highly robust effect of birth order, with laterborns trusting less than their older siblings. This effect is not accounted for by personality traits, strength of family ties, risk
aversion and parental inputs. The birth-order effect is only partially explained by complementary human-capital outcomes, and is robust when we use alternative dependent variables and control for endogenous fertility. In addition, multilevel estimates show that most of the trust variability is driven by within- rather than between-family characteristics. Our results are mainly driven by male respondents and moderated by their mother's
education.