Low private and public-sector debt, a considerable willingness to train and long-
term corporate strategies are the result of specific behavioural patterns.
In behavioural science these patterns are referred to as self-regulation and the
ability to forgo instant gratification. In economics they are discussed using the
term ‘time preference’ in connection with the problem of time inconsistency, for
Ever since Walter Mischel’s famous ‘marshmallow experiment’ at Princeton in
1989 , many studies have shown that self-regulation and patience are extremely
important factors for both microeconomic and macroeconomic success.
Other studies show that impatience leads to significantly lower investments in a
person’s own human capital and thus significantly lowers income over a lifetime.
Investigations and experiments have revealed that German society is very much
characterised by conscientiousness and a readiness to forgo instant
This leads to high levels of educational success, a rather low
marginal propensity to consume and high savings ratios coupled with a greater
willingness to protect the environment. In macroeconomic terms, these
characteristics help to foster low inflation rates and low levels of debt, or to sum
it up in one word: stability.