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Long‐term care policy with lazy rotten kids


Journal of Public Economic Theory

Published online on


This paper studies the determination of informal long‐term care (LTC) provided by children in a scenario which is somewhere in between perfect altruism and selfish exchanges. Parents are altruistic but children are purely selfish, and neither side can make credible commitments. The model is based on Becker's “rotten kid” specification except that it explicitly accounts for the sequence of decisions. In Becker's world, with a single good efficiency is achieved. We show that when family aid is introduced the outcome is likely to be inefficient. Still, the rotten kid mechanism is at work and ensures that a positive level of LTC is provided as long as the bequest motive is operative. We identify the inefficiencies by comparing the laissez‐faire (subgame perfect) equilibrium to the first‐best allocation. We first assume that families are identical ex ante and then consider the case where dynasties differ in wealth. We study how the provision of LTC can be improved by public policies. Interestingly, crowding out of private aid by public LTC is not a problem in this setting. With an operative bequest motive, public LTC will have no impact on private aid. More amazingly still, when the bequest motive is (initially) not operative, public insurance may even enhance the provision of informal aid.