Delay of Gratification and the Role of Defaults: An Experiment with Kindergarten Children

10 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

See all articles by Matthias Sutter

Matthias Sutter

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Cologne - Department of Economics

Levent Yilmaz

University of Innsbruck; Goethe University Frankfurt

Manuela Oberauer

University of Innsbruck

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.

Keywords: delay of gratification, intertemporal choice, default, experiment, children

JEL Classification: C91, D03

Suggested Citation

Sutter, Matthias and Yilmaz, Levent and Oberauer, Manuela, Delay of Gratification and the Role of Defaults: An Experiment with Kindergarten Children. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9314. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2655354

Matthias Sutter (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

University of Cologne - Department of Economics

Cologne, 50923
Germany

Levent Yilmaz

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universitätsstraße 15
Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020
Austria

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

Manuela Oberauer

University of Innsbruck ( email )

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