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Patience and the North-South divide in student achievement in Italy and the US

Eric A. Hanushek, Lavinia Kinne, Pietro Sancassani, Ludger Woessmann
Published Date: 
October 11, 2023

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.