Parental Priorities and Economic Inequality

by Casey B. Mulligan

Chapter IX

Classical Discussions of Altruism

In addition to the fields of economics and biology, the motivation for endogenous altruism - and some of the implications of my economic model - can be found in the field of philosophy. I review some of the work of David Hume, Adam Smith, John Rae, and others. These classical philosophers/economists argued that altruism or sympathy is endogenous and is formed as the result of costly actions. Moreover, they derive some implications of their approach that are similar to some results from Chapter IV. It appears my idea of endogenizing altruism is quite old, although a deliberate application of the model to economic issues such as intergenerational mobility, inequality, and the principal-agent problem may be novel.

© copyright 1996, Casey B. Mulligan.