Parental Learning and Teenagers’ Risky Behavior

Lingxin Hao, Johns Hopkins University
V. Joseph Hotz, Duke University
Ginger Jin, University of Maryland
Juan Pantano, Washington University in St. Louis

It is well documented that teenagers engage in risky behaviors at high rates. Usually these behaviors occur without parental consent and teens invest resources to preclude parents from knowing whether and to what extent they engage in such behaviors. This may give rise to parental incentives to learn about their children by paying close attention to observable "signals" of the underlying risky behavior. Moreover, parents can set up parenting rules which are contingent upon the realization of these signals in an effort to control the behavior of their children. We explore a game theoretic model of parent-child interactions and propose an empirical strategy to identify the equilibrium reaction functions that determine teenagers’ risky behavior and parenting rules. In preliminary work, we estimate approximations to these reaction functions using data on teens’ risky behavior and stringency of parental rules from the National Longitudinal Survey - Young Adults (NLS-YA)

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Presented in Session 181: Causes and Consequences of Adolescent Behavior