The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets
M. Keith Chen
American Economic Review, 2013, vol. 103, issue 2, 690-731
Languages differ widely in the ways they encode time. I test the hypothesis that the languages that grammatically associate the future and the present, foster future-oriented behavior. This prediction arises naturally when well-documented effects of language structure are merged with models of intertemporal choice. Empirically, I find that speakers of such languages: save more, retire with more wealth, smoke less, practice safer sex, and are less obese. This holds both across countries and within countries when comparing demographically similar native households. The evidence does not support the most obvious forms of common causation. I discuss implications for theories of intertemporal choice. (JEL D14, D83, E21, I12, J26, Z13)
JEL-codes: D14 D83 E21 I12 J26 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.2.690
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (116) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:2:p:690-731
Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
Access Statistics for this article
American Economic Review is currently edited by Esther Duflo
More articles in American Economic Review from American Economic Association Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Michael P. Albert ().