Let’s say someone you know—we’ll call him Joe—asks you for a loan. Most likely, a number of questions flash through your mind: How well do I know Joe? How trustworthy is he? Will I see my money again? New research suggests you might also want to ask a seemingly unrelated question: Does Joe smoke?
A research team led by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee economist Scott Adams examined two distinct data sets—one drawn from 1,069 truck drivers in training, and another from 2,071 participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.
Based on key factors related to money management skills, including credit scores, being denied credit, and maxing out credit cards, the researchers conclude that, compared to non-smokers, people who light up on a daily basis “make poor decisions and experience worse outcomes with personal finances.”
The smoking habit, they write in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, “is negatively correlated with willingness to delay rewards and conscientiousness,” and has a unique “ability to predict behavior” in the financial realm.
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