Time Encoding in Languages and Investment Efficiency
Management Science, Forthcoming
56 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2020
Date Written: November 29, 2019
Linguistics research shows that languages differ as to how they differentiate future from present events. Economics research finds that when the grammatical structure of a language disassociates the future from the present, speakers of the language also disassociate the future from the present in their behaviors. This study examines how linguistically induced time perception relates to cross-country variation in investment efficiency. We find that underinvestment is less prevalent in countries where there is a weaker time disassociation in the language. The results from both a within-country analysis based on firms headquartered in different regions of Switzerland and an analysis based on the birthplace information of US firms’ CEOs confirm the relation between languages and investment efficiency. Collectively, the results suggest that time encoding in languages influences speakers’ cognition and their investment decisions.
Keywords: Languages, linguistics, time encoding, future time reference, investment efficiency
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