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Could the language we speak skew our financial decision-making, and does the fact that you're reading this in English make you less likely than a Mandarin speaker to save for your old age?
It is a controversial theory which has been given some weight by new findings from a Yale University behavioural economist, Keith Chen.
Prof Chen says his research proves that the grammar of the language we speak affects both our finances and our health.
Bluntly, he says, if you speak English you are likely to save less for your old age, smoke more and get less exercise than if you speak a language like Mandarin, Yoruba or Malay.
Ph.D. Harvard University Department of Economics, 2003
Advisors: Drew Fudenberg, David Laibson, and Al Roth
Thesis: Bargaining Behind Bars: Peer and Strategic Interactions in Theory and Data
Bachelors of Science with honors in Mathematics; Stanford University, 1998
Thesis: Non-Archimedean Probabilities and the Foundations of Rationality
Associate Professor of Economics: Yale School of Management
Other Affiliations: Department of Economics & Cowles Foundation, and Cognitive Science
2003-2008: Assistant Professor of Economics: Yale School of Management
Other Academic Positions:
2013-present: Associate Editor, Behavioral Science and Policy
Referee for the:
American Economic Review, American Law and Economics Review, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Industrial Economics, Journal of Political Economy, Management Science, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Proceedings of the Royal Society, RAND Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economics and Statistics.
Applied Microeconomic Theory with a focus in Behavioral Economics
Microeconomics, Behavioral Economics, and Strategy
Grants and Awards:
2013: Science, Editors' Choice for "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior"
2011: Yale SOM Alumni Association, Annual Teaching Award
2008: Roger F. Murray Prize, The Institute for Quantitative Research in Finance
2008: American Law and Economics Review Distinguished Article Prize
2006-2011: National Science Foundation research grant
2006-2007: Behavioral economics research grant, Russell Sage Foundation
2005-2007: Neuroeconomics; Whitebox Advisors Research Grant, Yale ICF, Behavioral Finance Initiative
2004-2006: Capuchin Research; Whitebox Advisors Research Grant, Yale ICF, Behavioral Finance Initiative
2004: Behavioral Economics Field-Study Research Grant, Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies
2008-present: Introduction to Game Theory, Yale School of Management (required)
2008-present: Introduction to Managerial Economics, Yale School of Management (required)
2005-present: Behavioral Economics and Strategy, Yale University (elective)
2004-2008: Negotiating Strategy; Yale School of Management (elective)
2003-2008: Economics Analysis: Yale School of Management (required)
But he says his research has controlled for all these factors, by concentrating on nine multi-lingual countries: Belgium, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Estonia, DR Congo, Nigeria, Malaysia, Singapore, and Switzerland.
If your language separates the future and the present in its grammar, that seems to lead you to slightly disassociate the future from the present”