First off, the poll is here. If you want to read about my motivations and such, carry on.
I’ve been thinking a lot about savings lately. About how our parents and grandparents seem to be so much better at it than almost anyone I know and how much money many of us manage to spend on a lot of not very important things, but they SEEM really important. They will make us happy, I’ll start saving after this, and so on.
I’ve also been thinking about income inequality a lot. Don’t have a lot of super intelligent things to say on it yet, but I will say that I think it’s a big problem in this country.
I came across this post from the often very informative and provocative (and just as often over my head currently) blog “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative” which argues that it just IS issues of patience rather than income inequality which determine how much people save. In econ-speak, this might be referred to as a person’s “subjective rate of time preference” i.e. if you have a “high” subjective rate of time preference, it means “I want it now and damn the torpedoes” while if you have a “low” subjective rate it means “I can spend this money today or not, might save it. Do you need to borrow some money for repayment later?” and is generally a way to look at and discuss people’s savings rates.
And the blog has a point. Our savings rate is crap, China’s is super high. Our (generally) poorer grandparent’s saved enough money with typically much larger families to leave us some or send their kids to college, etc. There’s another current I’ve read about which says that the whole sort of self-identity of keeping up appearances in the face of declining average wages for the lower 80% has more than a little to do with the crap savings rate of Americans, but yeah, I’m just thinking this all out and wondered what it would be like to collect some (admittedly simple) data of my own. It asks some maybe personal questions for some folks, but again, I have NO way of knowing who is who, so take a stab at it. I know it’s not the “Which Ramone are you?” poll on Facebook, but it’s in the interest of helping out your curious and earnest pal, me. Hopefully I’ll put something useful together with it and report back here.
I’m getting a few good bits of feedback from friends thus far about the restrictive nature of 2-choice questions, using cliches to help identify peoples’ more complex beliefs, etc. and I really appreciate it! This is literally a very first stab at doing this type of thing and while I thought about some of the issues raised and choose simplicity for the sake of starting with a manageable tool, I encourage anyone and everyone to give me any such feedback in comments. I’m having fun poking around in this admittedly very limited data pool, as it is my first primary-sourced sampling of anything economic. (theUE)