Researchers at the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (Ifau) in Uppsala decided to look into how children who prioritize reward in the long-term versus the short-term fare later in life.
“The study looked at how the individual values benefit today and in the future,” the researchers summarized. “We looked at whether there was a link between the choice of an immediate benefit rather than delayed reward (in other words, a kind of impatience) and long-term socio-economic outcomes.”
To answer that question, the researchers asked children in grade six, when Swedish children are eleven to twelve years old, about what they would rather choose:
100 kronor now or 1,000 in five years’ time?
In other words, $15 straight away, or show a bit of restraint and gain tenfold that amount.
Then the Uppsala researchers followed the children’s development using publicly available statistics over four decades.
“Our results show their is a clear link between individuals who are not impatient doing better later in life,” the study summarized.
The most clear correlation was found between a child’s level of patience and how well they performed in school and whether they went on to higher education, the researchers noted.