The World is Divided on Financial Reward

The world’s population is divided when it comes to their urgency for money – 46% of us would prefer gaining some amount of money now, while 42% are willing to wait 12 months to get double the amount.

Data is from a special poll conducted by Gallup International Association (GIA) in 56 countries covering over two thirds of the global population (and more than 90% of those countries which are free to conduct and publish opinion research). The poll celebrates GIA’s 75th anniversary.

The respondents were asked to think about their current household income and choose between receiving an extra payment today, equaling their normal monthly income, or receiving an extra payment, equal to twice their monthly income, but in a year. The question refers to a popular notion in psychology and behavioral economics – present bias or our tendency to prefer a smaller immediate prize over a greater prize in the future.

Results show a rather divided opinions around the world – 46% show a present bias, while 42% are more prone to place their future self in greater importance.

With immediate financial struggles perhaps top of mind, people from lower income countries seem more prone to choose some reward now, despite it being smaller – 53% vs. 42%. The higher the national income, the more prone to express preferences towards a greater reward in the future – 38% vs. 48% in the wealthiest countries.

Age seems to have a rather insignificant effect on respondents’ views, although younger generations seem a bit less prone to exhibiting present bias. Personal income and education seem more defining in people’s attitudes on future wellbeing-present improving dilemma. The higher the income and education, the lower present bias orientations.

The regions of MENA and Latin America are leading the present bias ranking – with shares of over 60% confirming they would rather receive one monthly payment now. On the other end of the scale are the EU and North America – shares of around 40%.

Nigeria, Iraq and Pakistan – top the list with 76%, 74% and 69% – showing present bias. World’s richest and more developed countries show least present bias – 16% in Sweden, 24% in the Netherlands, 31% in Japan.

Of note is the case of the USA and the Russian Federation. People in Russia for instance show a rather small present bias (32%), but also the greatest share of respondents, who cannot choose an option – 48%. The remaining 20% express preferences towards a greater reward in the future.  While those in the USA are also among the nations that show a lesser incline towards present bias – 39%, with 48% oriented towards the future (and 14% undecided).

Overall it seems that, together with the answers to the questions “How far is the future?” and “How much do I need the money right now?” uncertainty also defines our reward preferences.

Kancho Stoychev, president of GIA:

In a way this bias indicator is related much more to the assessment of the present rather than to the future. Although our minds are permanently planning “what’s next “, our lives depend on what they are now. And if we consider our “now” stable and satisfactory, we tend to postpone the “more” for the future. That is why we can call this bias indicator also a stability perception indicator, because as Nicholas Taleb once said: “Stability is progress without impatience “.

Sample Size and Mode of Field Work:

A total of 53 321 persons were interviewed globally. In each country a representative sample of around 1000 men and women was interviewed during August-October 2022 either face to face, via telephone or online. The margin of error for the survey is between +3-5% at 95% confidence level.

About Gallup International

Gallup International Association (GIA) is the leading global independent association in market research and opinion polling. 

For over 70 years Gallup International members have demonstrated their expert ability to conduct multi-country surveys on a comparable basis and deliver the highest quality. Our more than 100 members and partners are leading national institutes with a profound local knowledge of research methods and techniques, statistical sources, customs and culture differences of its own country and carefully selected by the Association Board. With only one member agency per country, members work together on a daily basis to share knowledge, new research techniques and tools, as well as to provide the most appropriate solutions to international research projects and service our clients to the best of our abilities.

For more information:

Kancho Stoychev (in Sofia), +359 88 8611025

Johnny Heald (in London), +44 7973 600308

Dr Munqith Dagher (in Baghdad) +962 7 9967 2229

Steven Kang (in Seoul) +82-2-3702-2550

Antonio Asencio Guillen (in Madrid) +34 608191334

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