Numerous proverbs and wisdoms bear witness to patience – be it the grass that pulls does not grow faster, or Rome, which was built in more than a day. Those who prefer to reach for the teapot and wait could benefit more from this than they might think.
Because scientists from the Universities of Cologne and Bonn have evaluated data on the time preference of 80,000 people from 76 countries. Your result is clear: patient people deserve more. The study was prepared as part of the ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy Cluster of Excellence and was published as a discussion paper by ECONtribute.
It found that differences in patience explained about 40 percent of the differences in per capita income between countries. In Canada, the USA, Australia and Sweden they are particularly patient, and Germany also does quite well in an international comparison. Such a connection can also be established within the federal states: In regions with a higher level of education and higher incomes, people are on average more patient.
Patience is an advantage in education and in saving
But why is that? According to the researchers, those who have more patience invest more time in education. Studying or continuing education requires perseverance. In the end, however, you often benefit from higher earnings. It is the same with saving behavior: impatient people are likely to find it more difficult to regularly set money aside and not spend it, as the reward for this behavior is not immediate. Previous studies have even shown that impatience has far more disadvantages, as more impatient people were more likely to hesitate to work, use more drugs, and get worse grades.
So it’s a myth that impatience leads to success, as some entrepreneurs like to claim. On the contrary, according to the scientists from Cologne and Bonn, patient behavior is one of the main factors for productivity – and should therefore be encouraged, for example in development policy. However, the reasons why people have different levels of patience are still unclear.
However, certain factors such as political stability, education or free competition could contribute to this. To some extent, however, the behavior is already learned in childhood – for example, by regularly feeding your piggy bank. In doing so, you practice both frugality and patience – “an important factor for the later household income”, says Thomas Dohmen, researcher at the Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn.