Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

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Working Paper

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How are variations in inter-temporal preferences or planning behavior linked to inequality among households in long-term outcomes, such as savings, marriage or health? We use a simple regression method to develop an index of "future-orientedness" based on how an individual’s reported attitudes in the 1970s predict wealth many years later. Our results suggest that variation in planning matters more for future net worth than discount rates. We find that this index also has statistically significant effects on offspring savings and on non-financial choices such as the timing of children.


saving, attitude, future wealth

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The project described received funding from the TIAA Institute and Wharton School’s Pension Research Council/Boettner Center. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the TIAA Institute or Wharton School’s Pension Research Council/Boettner Center.

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All findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the authors and does not represent official views of the above-named institutions. © 2023 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.


Postlewaite gratefully acknowledges support from National Science Foundation Grant #SES 0095768. Support from National Institutes of Health - National Institute on Aging, Grant number P30 AG12836. Knowles is grateful for support from the SSHRC, Grant # 435-2018-0111. We are also grateful for funding from the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Security at the University of Pennsylvania. We wish to thank Lucie L’Heudé for excellent research assistance.

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Economics Commons



Date Posted: 26 May 2023