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Time Matters

Aug 25, 2011 • Behavioral Economics, Businesses, Developing Economies, Economic Thinkers, Innovation, Labor, Macroeconomic Measurement, Thinking Economically • 188 Views    1 Comment

Faster people tend to live in wealthier nations.

According to psychologist Robert Levine, cultures with faster walkers probably have more people, a cooler climate, a “vital economy” and they value individualism. Measuring “tempo” in 31 different countries, in A Geography of Time, he explains how time and the fabric of our culture interact.

To assess your own “time urgency,” Dr. Levine suggests you consider these variables:

  1. Do you care what time it is?
  2. Do you speak quickly? Tolerate interruptions? Look for the point of a statement immediately?
  3. Are you a speedy eater? Walker? Impatient driver?
  4. Do you value punctuality?
  5. Do you depend on lists?
  6. Do wait times annoy you?

Here, in a past post, we look at more of Dr. Levine’s work.

The Economic Lesson

In his NY Times Economic View column, economist Tyler Cowen tells that U.S. productivity numbers are slipping. If a worker has less output per hour, then the impact can be felt far beyond the workplace. Living standards, GDP and wages will be affected.

And that returns us to time. A society with a faster tempo is likely to be more productive.

An Economic Question: Specifically, how might “time urgency” and productivity relate? Examples?

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  • morganb12

    I think that those who think is more valuable would produce more because think time is of the essence and want to get things done faster. I also think it’s important to consider quality when thinking about time urgency and productivity. When consumers buy items, the first thing they notice is the quality of what they are spending their money on; not how much time it took to produce the item.

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