Predicting Mid-Life Capital Formation with Pre-School Delay of Gratiﬁcation and Life-Course Measures of Self-Regulation
14 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2019 Last revised: 20 Oct 2020
Date Written: November 16, 2019
How well do pre-school delay of gratiﬁcation and life-course measures of self-regulation predict mid-life capital formation? We surveyed 113 participants of the 1967–1973 Bing pre-school studies on delay of gratiﬁcation when they were in their late 40’s. They reported 11 mid-life capital formation outcomes, including net worth, permanent income, absence of high-interest debt, forward-looking behaviors, and educational attainment. To address multiple hypothesis testing and our small sample, we pre-registered an analysis plan of well–powered tests. As predicted, a newly constructed and pre-registered measure derived from preschool delay of gratiﬁcation does not predict the 11 capital formation variables (i.e., the sign-adjusted average correlation was 0.02). A pre-registered composite self-regulation index, combining preschool delay of gratiﬁcation with survey measures of self-regulation collected at ages 17, 27, and 37, does predict 10 of the 11 capital formation variables in the expected direction, with an average correlation of 0.19. The inclusion of the preschool delay of gratiﬁcation measure in this composite index does not affect the index’s predictive power. We tested several hypothesized reasons that preschool delay of gratiﬁcation does not have predictive power for our mid-life capital formation variables.
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