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

49 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 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

Silvia Angerer

UMIT - University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology

Daniela Rützler

University of Innsbruck

Philipp Lergetporer

University of Innsbruck

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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.

Keywords: intertemporal choice, language, children, experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D03, D90

Suggested Citation

Sutter, Matthias and Angerer, Silvia and Rützler, Daniela and Lergetporer, Philipp, The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Children's Intertemporal Choices. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9383. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2672169

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

Silvia Angerer

UMIT - University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology ( email )

Eduard-Wallnöfer-Zentrum 1
Hall, Tirol 6060
Austria

Daniela Rützler

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Philipp Lergetporer

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universitätsstraße 15
Innsbruck, 6020
Austria

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