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Does Education Matter in Patience Formation? Evidence from Ugandan Villages



The paper aims to contribute to the understanding of why there is a lack of domestic saving and investment in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It focuses on heterogeneity in inter-temporal preferences as a possible explanation of this important puzzle. The study is based on a unique experimental data set collected from 856 respondents in Ugandan villages and scrutinizes how individual patience – measured by the discount rate – is formed. The results suggest that Ugandan respondents are substantially less patient than their counterparts in similar experimental studies undertaken in developed countries and South Asia. We find a strong negative association between the level of education and the individual discount rate. Furthermore, we took advantage of the Ugandan education reform in 1996 and varying school frequency to demonstrate the causal relationship stemming from education to patience. The estimates suggest that an additional year at school decreases the discount rate on average by 35 percentage points after controlling for other characteristics (age, income group, sex, marital status and clan linkage). Our findings strongly accord with patience understood as a non-cognitive ability which needs to be taught by parents, learnt at school and promoted by social norms. The Ugandan responses, therefore, propose a new way in which education may influence development in sub-Saharan Africa – by shaping individual patience.

Suggested Citation

  • Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilová, 2007. "Does Education Matter in Patience Formation? Evidence from Ugandan Villages," Working Papers IES 2007/10, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Feb 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:fau:wpaper:wp2007_10

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Time preference; patience; discount rate; education; savings; economic development; field survey; sub-Saharan Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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