Our results indicate that time preferences are strongly associated with lifetime outcomes. Impatient children perform worse in compulsory and secondary school. The difference in school performance between more and less future-oriented children is substantial and similar to the gender gap in school performance. Additionally, impatient children earn less lifetime income, are more often unemployed, and take up more welfare. Our results also show that people who are impatient as a child are more prone to die young, to become obese, or to become a teenage mother. Males and high ability children gain significantly more from being future-oriented.
Earlier research has shown that impatience correlates with cognitive ability (Dohmen et al. 2010, Benjamin et al. 2013). Our results are robust when we control for cognitive ability and other potentially important confounding factors such as parental socioeconomic status.
Using extensive criminal records, we find in a second paper that children who are less able to delay rewards are also more likely to become criminals later in life....Not exactly news, but it bears repeating. Unfortunately, the three economists should have taken a little more time to ponder their own results;
An important result in both of our papers is that the relationship between time preferences and lifetime outcomes is mediated by early human capital investments. This suggests that time preferences affect educational attainment, which in turn has an impact on crime and other outcomes in life. Some studies have suggested that investing in education makes individuals more patient (e.g. Perez-Arce 2011). Our results therefore imply that one channel through which educational attainment reduces criminal behaviour and adverse outcomes is by making people more patient.Probably more likely that having patience increases educational attainment. Since there has been ever increasing 'investment' in education in most Western countries over the past few decades, without a noticeable improvement in patience in places like--to take a current example--Ferguson, Missouri.
The investment in human capital needs to come a little closer to home. In fact, in the home, by the parents of the children.