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The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference

Galor, Oded and Özak, Ömer (2016): The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference.

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Abstract

This research explores the origins of observed differences in time preference across countries and regions. Exploiting a natural experiment associated with the expansion of suitable crops for cultivation in the course of the Columbian Exchange, the research establishes that pre-industrial agro-climatic characteristics that were conducive to higher return to agricultural investment, triggered selection, adaptation and learning processes that generated a persistent positive effect on the prevalence of long-term orientation in the contemporary era. Furthermore, the research establishes that these agro-climatic characteristics have had a culturally embodied impact on economic behavior such as technological adoption, education, saving, and smoking.

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