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

Matthias Sutter (), Silvia Angerer, Daniela Glätzle-Rützler () and Philipp Lergetporer ()

No 5532, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Group Munich

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. This result is robust when controlling for risk attitudes, IQ, family background, or when considering other languages.

Keywords: intertemporal choice; language; children; experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D03 D90 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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