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The Early Childhood Determinants Of Time Preferences

  • Liam Delaney

    (UCD Geary Institute, UCD School of Economics, & UCD School of Public Health and Population Science, University College Dublin)

  • Orla Doyle

    (UCD Geary Institute & UCD School of Public Health and Population Science, University College Dublin)

Research on time preference formation and socioeconomic differences in discounting has received little attention to date. This article examines the extent to which early childhood differences emerge in measures of hyperactivity, impulsivity and persistence, all of which are good psychometric analogues to how economists conceptualise discounting. We examine the distribution of these traits measured at age three across parental social class and analyse the extent to which different mechanism plausibly generate the observed social class distribution. In addition, we control for a wide ranging of potentially mediating factors including parental investment and proxies for maternal time preferences. Our results show substantial social class variations across all measures. We find only weak evidence that this relates to differential maternal time preferences (e.g. savings behaviour, abstaining from smoking) but relatively stronger evidence that these traits are transmitted through the parents own non-cognitive skill set (self-esteem, attachment etc.) and parental time investments (e.g. time spent reading to the child and teaching the child to write, sing etc.).

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/geary/static/publications/workingpapers/gearywp200834.pdf
File Function: First version, 2008
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Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200834.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 15 Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:200834
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  1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2012. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 645-677.
  2. Cipriani, Marco & Giuliano, Paola & Jeanne, Olivier, 2013. "Like mother like son? Experimental evidence on the transmission of values from parents to children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 100-111.
  3. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," NBER Working Papers 8344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Eric Bettinger & Robert Slonim, 2006. "Patience among children," Artefactual Field Experiments 00043, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Orla Doyle & Colm Harmon & James J. Heckman & Richard E. Tremblay, 2007. "Early Childhood Intervention. Rationale, Timing and Efficacy," Working Papers 200705, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  7. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  8. David M. Bishai, 2004. "Does time preference change with age?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 583-602, December.
  9. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
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