Project «Linguistics and time preferences: How language shapes inter-temporal trade-offs»

Recent evidence suggests a correlation between the encoding of time in a language and future-oriented behavior. However, the origins of this relationship remain unclear. We study whether this relationship is driven by a universal difference in discount rates across language groups, or rather due to differences in present-bias, that is, short-run discounting only. Using individual incentivized preference measures of French and German speakers - two languages that differ in their encoding of time - from a bilingual region of Switzerland, we find that French speakers are significantly more impatient than German speakers, but only if immediate payments are involved. When faced with a choice between two future payments, differences are less pronounced. Our evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the grammatical association between the present and the future in a language affects present-bias.

Duration
March 2016 – still in progress

Collaborators

  • Holger, Herz, Professor of Economics, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Martin, Huber, Professor of Economics, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Tjaša, Maillard-Bjedov, Associate Professor, Swiss Distance Learning University, Switzerland
  • Svitlana, Tyahlo, PhD student, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Funding

  • Swiss Distance Learning University, Switzerland
  • University of Fribourg, Switzerland
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