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Delay of gratification and the role of defaults—An experiment with kindergarten children

Author

Listed:
  • Sutter, Matthias
  • Yilmaz, Levent
  • Oberauer, Manuela

Abstract

The ability to delay gratification has been shown to be related to higher education and income and better health status. We study in an experiment with 336 kindergarten children, aged three to six years, whether intertemporal choice behavior is malleable. In a control condition, about 50% of children prefer two rewards the next day over one reward immediately. By setting a simple default this fraction increases to more than 70%, indicating that simple defaults work very successfully in promoting delay of gratification. We also find that patience increases with age and that more patient children have a lower BMI.

Suggested Citation

  • Sutter, Matthias & Yilmaz, Levent & Oberauer, Manuela, 2015. "Delay of gratification and the role of defaults—An experiment with kindergarten children," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 21-24.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:137:y:2015:i:c:p:21-24
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2015.08.028
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bart H.H. Golsteyn & Hans Grönqvist & Lena Lindahl, 2014. "Adolescent Time Preferences Predict Lifetime Outcomes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(580), pages 739-761, November.
    2. Matthias Sutter & Martin G. Kocher & Daniela Glätzle-Rützler & Stefan T. Trautmann, 2013. "Impatience and Uncertainty: Experimental Decisions Predict Adolescents' Field Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 510-531, February.
    3. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2003. "Optimal Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 180-185, May.
    4. Castillo, Marco & Ferraro, Paul J. & Jordan, Jeffrey L. & Petrie, Ragan, 2011. "The today and tomorrow of kids: Time preferences and educational outcomes of children," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1377-1385.
    5. Brosig-Koch, Jeannette & Heinrich, Timo & Helbach, Christoph, 2015. "Exploring the capability to reason backwards: An experimental study with children, adolescents, and young adults," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 286-302.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sutter, Matthias & Zoller, Claudia & Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela, 2019. "Economic behavior of children and adolescents – A first survey of experimental economics results," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 98-121.
    2. Alexander Cappelen & John List & Anya Samek & Bertil Tungodden, 2016. "The Effect of Early Education on Social Preferences," Framed Field Experiments 00584, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. Pannenberg, Markus & Friehe, Tim, 2017. "Time preferences and political regimes: Evidence from reunified Germany," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168173, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Matthias Sutter & Silvia Angerer & Daniela Rützler & Philipp Lergetporer, 2015. "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Children's Intertemporal Choices," CESifo Working Paper Series 5532, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Quis, Johanna Sophie & Bela, Anika & Heineck, Guido, 2019. "Preschoolers' Self-Regulation, Skill Differentials, and Early Educational Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 12072, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. repec:eee:eecrev:v:106:y:2018:i:c:p:21-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Quis, Johanna Sophie & Bela, Anika & Heineck, Guido, 2018. "Preschoolers' self-regulation, skill differentials, and early educational outcomes," BERG Working Paper Series 140, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Delay of gratification; Intertemporal choice; Default; Experiment; Children;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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