SBEE Lecture Series: Holger Herz

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Ross School of Business, Room 0230

The Social, Behavioral and Experimental Economics lecture series is sponsored by the School of Information, the Ross School of Business and the Department of Economics. Speakers from U.S. and international universities present their research at weekly seminars during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Linguistics and preferences: Does language effect exponential discounting, present-bias, or both?


According to the linguistic-savings hypothesis (Chen, 2013), languages that grammatically associate the future and the present foster future-oriented behavior in terms of savings and other economic outcomes. Our study investigates this hypothesis between French and German speaking pupils in a bilingual region of Switzerland, explicitly differentiating between the impact of language on exponential discounting and present bias. We find that French speakers are significantly more impatient than German speakers in the short run. In the long run, however, differences are less pronounced. Our evidence therefore suggests that language affects the degree of hyperbolic discounting and leads to less future oriented behavior mostly through increasing present-biasedness.

About the speaker 

Holger Herz is Professor of Industrial Economics in the Department of Economics at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. In the past, Herz was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Zurich and the Harvard Business School. Herz earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Zurich and a Diplom in Economics from Mannheim University. His publications have appeared in American Economic Review, European Economic Review, Journal of Law and more. He is currently exploring clarity in relational contracts, linguistics and discounting, as well as informal delegation as commitment.