We examine the effects of family altruism and shared resource arrangements on the
voluntary provision of public goods using methods drawn from experimental economics.
Economic models of the family assume that, with sufficient altruism and shared resource
arrangements, families can provide the efficient level of family public goods. Becker's
‘Rotten Kid Theorem' goes one step further in asserting that, even if children
are not altruistic towards other family members, they will be induced to maximize
family income because transfers from altruistic parents will neutralize any gain
from opportunistic behavior. Consistent with the idea of altruism towards family
members, our results show that both parents and children contributed more to a public
good fund when the group consisted of family members than when the group consisted
of strangers. In contrast to the predictions of the Rotten Kid Theorem, however,
the children's contributions fell substantially short of maximizing group income,
even when they were in groups with their own family.