Parental choices and children’s skills: An agent-based model of parental investment behavior and skill inequality within and across generations

Cardona A (2014)
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17(4).

Journal Article | Published | English

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Abstract
An agent-based simulation model (ABM) is developed and implemented using Python to explore the emergence of intragenerational and intergenerational skill inequality at the societal level that results from differences in parental investment behavior at the household level during early stages of the life course. Parental behavior is modeled as optimal, heuristic-based, or norm-oriented. Skills grow according to the technology of skill formation developed in the field of economics, calibrated with empirically estimated parameters from existing research. Agents go through a simplified life course. During childhood and adolescence, skills are produced through parental investments. In adulthood, individuals find a partner, give birth to the next generation, and invest in offspring. Number and spacing of children and available resources are treated as exogenous factors and are varied experimentally. Simulation experiments suggest that parental decisions at the household level play a role in the emergence of inequality at the societal level. Being egalitarian or not is the most important distinction in parental investment behavior, while optimizing parents generate similar results as egalitarian parents. Furthermore, there is a tradeoff between equality at home and inequality at the macro-level. Changes in the environment reduce or exacerbate inequality depending on parental investment behavior. One prediction of the model on intragenerational inequality in cognitive skills was validated with the use of empirical data. The simulation can best be described as a middle-range model, informed by research on skill formation and the intrahousehold allocation of resources. It is a first step toward more complex ABMs on inequality from a life course perspective. Possible model extensions are suggested. The Overview, Design Concepts, and Details (ODD) protocol and Design of Experiments (DOE) were used to document the model and set up the experimental design respectively.
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Cardona A. Parental choices and children’s skills: An agent-based model of parental investment behavior and skill inequality within and across generations. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation. 2014;17(4).
Cardona, A. (2014). Parental choices and children’s skills: An agent-based model of parental investment behavior and skill inequality within and across generations. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 17(4).
Cardona, A. (2014). Parental choices and children’s skills: An agent-based model of parental investment behavior and skill inequality within and across generations. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17.
Cardona, A., 2014. Parental choices and children’s skills: An agent-based model of parental investment behavior and skill inequality within and across generations. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 17(4).
A. Cardona, “Parental choices and children’s skills: An agent-based model of parental investment behavior and skill inequality within and across generations”, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 17, 2014.
Cardona, A.: Parental choices and children’s skills: An agent-based model of parental investment behavior and skill inequality within and across generations. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation. 17, (2014).
Cardona, Andrés. “Parental choices and children’s skills: An agent-based model of parental investment behavior and skill inequality within and across generations”. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17.4 (2014).
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