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How language affects economic behavior: Evidence with adolescents from Switzerland
Last registered on December 28, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
How language affects economic behavior: Evidence with adolescents from Switzerland
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002021
Initial registration date
March 31, 2017
Last updated
December 28, 2017 12:43 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Fribourg
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Formation universitaire à distance, Suisse
PI Affiliation
University of Fribourg
PI Affiliation
University of Fribourg
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2017-04-03
End date
2017-04-05
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The linguistic-savings hypothesis (see Chen, M. K., 2013: “The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets”, American Economic Review, 103(2), pp. 690-731) states that languages that grammatically associate the future and the present foster future-oriented behavior in terms of savings and other economic outcomes. Our study primarily investigates differences in time preferences between French and German speaking students in a secondary school in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. We conduct a pen-and-paper study with real payoffs to test (i) whether there are differences between French and German speakers in exponential discount rates (δ) and (ii) whether there are differences between French and German speakers in present bias (β), and (iii) whether the bilingual exhibit lower (larger) time discounting than French (German) speakers.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Herz, Holger et al. 2017. "How language affects economic behavior: Evidence with adolescents from Switzerland." AEA RCT Registry. December 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2021-4.0.
Former Citation
Herz, Holger et al. 2017. "How language affects economic behavior: Evidence with adolescents from Switzerland." AEA RCT Registry. December 28. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2021/history/24562.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We do not implement a classical intervention, since our hypotheses are based on natural language differences between subjects.
Intervention Start Date
2017-04-03
Intervention End Date
2017-04-05
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We measure time preferences using 4-week exponential discounting rate δ and present bias β.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Please see the attached document "Outcomes explanation".
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
A pen-and-paper based study takes place during regular school hours in a bilingual secondary school in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. Pupils voluntary participate in the study involving incentivized choice experiments for time and risk preferences. In addition, we collect important sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., gender, year and months of birth, migration background, parents’ background, language exposures, family structure and material conditions, schooling, plans for the future, values) that are likely to correlate with the study language and outcomes of interest.
Experimental Design Details
We elicit adolescents’ time preferences using two multiple price lists with real payoffs. Each price list consists of 12 decisions between earlier payoffs and delayed payoffs. The delayed payoffs are fixed at CHF 20. In the first price list, pupils choose between the payoff in the present and the delayed payoff in 4 weeks. In the second price list, pupils decide between the earlier payoff in 4 weeks and the delayed payoff in 8 weeks. The earlier payoffs vary between CHF 9 and CHF 20 in steps of CHF 1. Before making their decisions for each of the price lists, pupils answer the corresponding comprehension questions. At the end of the study, each pupil rolls a 24-sided cube to randomly select which decision out of two multiple price lists should be implemented. The delayed payments are delivered on the corresponding date per post. We use a lottery task with real payoffs to approximate adolescents’ risk tolerance. Pupils make 10 decisions between a certain payoff and the coin toss. The former varies between CHF 1 and CHF 10 in steps of CHF 1, where the latter yields CHF 10 in case of “heads” and CHF 0 in case of “tails”. Before making their decisions, pupils answer comprehension questions. At the end of the study, each pupil rolls a 10-sided cube to randomly select which decision should be implemented. Payments are made immediately. Pupils additionally answer a set of sociodemographic questions, including gender, year and month of birth, family structure and material conditions, parents’ background, schooling, migration background, values, native language, language exposure at home and with friends, plans for the future.
Randomization Method
We do not implement a classical randomization, since our hypotheses are based on natural language differences between pupils.
Randomization Unit
We do not implement a classical randomization, since our hypotheses are based on natural language differences between pupils.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
The number of clusters corresponds to the number of classes represented in the study. There are 20 German-speaking classes and 9 French-speaking classes yielding in total 29 clusters conditional on full attendance.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Total of 561 observations conditional on full attendance.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
381 pupils in the German and 180 pupils in the French part of school conditional on full attendance.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Direction de l’instruction publique, de la culture et du sport
IRB Approval Date
2016-12-16
IRB Approval Number
JMO/ cl. enq 16-17
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Analysis plan

MD5: a0bb87f511b9b0f4230ad93b284f0729

SHA1: f1927bd219c2ea6607cda96cbfeb95346cc749d8

Uploaded At: March 31, 2017

Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
April 05, 2017, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
April 05, 2017, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
The number of clusters corresponds to the number of classes represented in the study. There are 20 German-speaking classes and 9 French-speaking classes yielding in total 29 clusters.
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Total of 496 observations.
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
There are 347 pupils in the German and 149 pupils in the French part of school.
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS