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

Author

Listed:
  • Sutter, Matthias

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

  • Angerer, Silvia

    (IHS Carinthia)

  • Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela

    (University of Innsbruck)

  • Lergetporer, Philipp

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

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. The difference remains significant in several robustness checks and when controlling for a broad range of factors, including risk attitudes, IQ or family background.

Suggested Citation

  • Sutter, Matthias & Angerer, Silvia & Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela & Lergetporer, Philipp, 2015. "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Children's Intertemporal Choices," IZA Discussion Papers 9383, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9383
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    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. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. repec:ran:wpaper:895 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Helene Tenzer & Siri Terjesen & Anne-Wil Harzing, 2017. "Language in International Business: A Review and Agenda for Future Research," Management International Review, Springer, vol. 57(6), pages 815-854, December.
    2. Nicola Fuchs‐Schündeln & Paolo Masella & Hannah Paule‐Paludkiewicz, 2020. "Cultural Determinants of Household Saving Behavior," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 52(5), pages 1035-1070, August.
    3. 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.
    4. Brown, Martin & Henchoz, Caroline & Spycher, Thomas, 2018. "Culture and financial literacy: Evidence from a within-country language border," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 62-85.
    5. Timo Heinrich & Jason Shachat, 2020. "The development of risk aversion and prudence in Chinese children and adolescents," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 61(3), pages 263-287, December.
    6. Kim, Jaehyeon & Kim, Yongtae & Zhou, Jian, 2017. "Languages and earnings management," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 288-306.
    7. Silvia Angerer & Philipp Lergetporer & Daniela Glätzle-Rützler & Matthias Sutter, 2015. "How to measure time preferences in children: a comparison of two methods," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(2), pages 158-169, December.
    8. Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Tarverdi, Yashar & Weber, Clas, 2018. "Talking in the present, caring for the future: Language and environment," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 1370-1387.
    9. Chen, Shimin & Cronqvist, Henrik & Ni, Serene & Zhang, Frank, 2017. "Languages and corporate savings behavior," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 320-341.
    10. Wei Huang & Jaehyeon Kim, 2020. "Linguistically Induced Time Perception and Asymmetric Cost Behavior," Management International Review, Springer, vol. 60(5), pages 755-785, October.
    11. Astghik Mavisakalyan & Clas Weber, 2018. "Linguistic Structures And Economic Outcomes," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 916-939, July.
    12. Brown, Martin & Henchoz, Caroline & Spycher, Thomas, 2017. "Culture and Financial Literacy," Working Papers on Finance 1703, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    intertemporal choice; language; experiment; children;
    All these keywords.

    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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