They studied 13,000 children aged 13, with a follow-up 18 years later. The teenagers were asked whether they would prefer to receive $140 now or wait five years to receive $1,400 instead. The majority said they were prepared to wait.

However, those teenagers who wanted money directly were more likely to be involved in criminal behaviour later in life compared to those children who were willing to wait.

The authors stated that this does not mean that a person’s criminal path is set already in young ages, because when the respondents’ education was adjusted for, it was found that higher educational attainment was linked to a preference for delayed gratification. Read more

Åkerlund, D. Golsteyn, B H.H. Grönqvist, H & Lindahl, L. (2014). ”Time Preferences and Criminal Behavior”. IZA DP No. 8168