Despite the extent and persistence of regional differences in student achievement, they are poorly understood. This column suggests that patience – in the context of the relative valuation of present versus future payoffs – is closely related to regional student achievement gaps in Italy and the US. Using data from Facebook, the authors construct subnational measures of patience and find that they account for two-thirds of achievement variation across Italian regions and one-third of the variation across the US. Recent evidence showing that traits like patience can be improved through specific interventions suggests these findings could have significant policy implications.
Patience and the North-South divide in student achievement in Italy and the US