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The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Children's Intertemporal Choices

Author

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  • Matthias Sutter
  • Silvia Angerer
  • Daniela Rützler
  • Philipp Lergetporer

    ()

Abstract

According to Chen’s (2013) linguistic-savings hypothesis, languages which grammatically separate the future and the present (like English or Italian) induce less future-oriented behavior than languages in which speakers can refer to the future by using present tense (like German). We complement Chen’s approach with experimentally elicited time preference data from a bilingual city in Northern Italy. We find that German-speaking primary school children are about 46% more likely than Italian-speaking children to delay gratification in an intertemporal choice experiment. This result is robust when controlling for risk attitudes, IQ, family background, or when considering other languages.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5532
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Gary Charness & Uri Gneezy, 2010. "Portfolio Choice And Risk Attitudes: An Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 133-146, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2010. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1238-1260, June.
    5. M. Keith Chen, 2013. "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 690-731, April.
    6. Angerer, Silvia & Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela & Lergetporer, Philipp & Sutter, Matthias, 2015. "Donations, risk attitudes and time preferences: A study on altruism in primary school children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 67-74.
    7. repec:ran:wpaper:895 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. M. Keith Chen, 2011. "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1820, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Dec 2012.
    10. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Paule-Paludkiewicz, Hannah & Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola & Masella, Paolo, 2016. "Cultural Determinants of Household Saving Behavior," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145854, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Angerer, Silvia & Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela & Lergetporer, Philipp & Sutter, Matthias, 2016. "Cooperation and discrimination within and across language borders: Evidence from children in a bilingual city," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 254-264.
    3. Tenzer, Helene & Terjesen, Siri & Harzing, Anne-wil, 2017. "Language in international business : A review and agenda for future research," Other publications TiSEM 8afd108a-9666-4fbb-934f-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Brown, Martin & Henchoz, Caroline & Spycher, Thomas, 2017. "Culture and Financial Literacy," Working Papers on Finance 1703, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
    5. repec:eee:jeborg:v:150:y:2018:i:c:p:62-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Astghik Mavisakalyan & Yashar Tarverdi & Clas Weber, 2017. "Talking in the Present, caring for the Future: Language and Environment," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1703, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
    7. repec:eee:corfin:v:46:y:2017:i:c:p:320-341 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Heinrich, Timo & Shachat, Jason, 2018. "The development of risk aversion and prudence in Chinese children and adolescents," MPRA Paper 86456, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. repec:eee:jaecon:v:63:y:2017:i:2:p:288-306 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    intertemporal choice; language; children; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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