Does speaking the English condition its speakers to engage in economic policies that make them poorer in the long run? Poorer relative to whom, you ask? According to Yale's behavioural economist Keith Chen, the answer may be yes when compared to speakers of other languages whose treatment of time differs from Ennglish.
In his paper, he classified languages into two groups: "Strong future-time reference languages (strong FTR) require their speakers to use a different tense when speaking of the future. Weak future-time reference (weak FTR) languages do not." English speakers will say "I will go to class tomorrow", while Mandarin speakers only need to say "I go to class tomorrow".
Apparently that extra step means that "[s]peakers of languages which only use the present tense when dealing with the future are likely to save more money than those who speak languages which require the use a future tense". He further found that "compared to speakers of languages which use a future tense, speakers of languages with no real future tense are:
- Likely to have saved 39% more by the time they retire
- 31% more likely to save in a year
- 24% less likely to smoke
- 29% more likely to be physically active
- 13% less likely to be obese."