- Period: 2019 - 2023
- Funding: Sozioökonomisches Panel - Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS), ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, Australia (2020-2028), Australian Research Council, Project DP200100979
Self-control, that is an individual’s ability to delay gratification, requires willpower and causes immediate costs to gain a future reward. In order to reach the desired weight until the next beach holiday an individual has to forgo, for instance, a piece of cake after having lunch. The ability to exert self-control is fundamental to understanding human behavior as it allows people to override their impulses and achieve long-term goals. This high relevance in people’s everyday life makes self-control one of the most studied concepts across the spectrum of social sciences. Still, so far empirical evidence on self-control is limited to small and non-representative data sets. To overcome this lack representative evidence, we successfully proposed the inclusion of a self-control measure into the German Socio-economic Panel Study–Innovation Sample (SOEP–IS). We assess trait self-control using the German version of the well-established Brief Tangney Self-Control Scale. Moreover, our measurement tools allow accounting for the lack of awareness that many people have regarding their own self-control abilities. We can distinguish between time-consistent individuals as well as those who have limited self-control and are either aware or not aware of it, i.e. sophisticated and naive individuals according to the classification of O’Donoghue and Rabin (1999). We will empirically investigate both predictors of self-control such as gender, age, socioeconomic status or cognitive ability and its consequences for human capital investments, poverty and savings, health (behaviors), and inter-temporal decision making in general. Understanding both how self-control relates to these key life outcomes and how this might differ along the full range of individual characteristics such as age and socioeconomic status in representative data provides a unique opportunity to learn about the optimal design of social and economic policy. For example, work incentives in programs like the unemployment benefits system may need to account for agents’ self-control issues in order to live up to their potential.
- Prof. Dr. Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch
- Dr. Daniel Kamhöfer