Field experiments on the development of time preferences

By: James Andreoni ; Michael Kuhn ; John List ; Anya Samek ; Charles Sprenger
Time preferences have been correlated with a range of life outcomes, yet little is known about their early development. We conduct a field experiment to elicit time preferences of nearly 1,000 children ages 3-12, who make several inter temporal decisions. To shed light on how such primitives form, we explore various channels that might affect time preferences, from background characteristics to the causal impact of an early schooling program that we developed and operated. Our results suggest that time preferences evolve substantially during this period with younger children displaying more impatience than older children. We also find a strong association with race: black children, relative to white or Hispanic children, are more impatient. Interestingly, parents of black children are also much more impatient than parents of white and Hispanic children. Finally, assignment to different schooling opportunities is not significantly associated with child time preferences.
URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:feb:artefa:00615&r=ltv
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