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What the U.S. Can Learn from China by Ann Lee

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4 Five-Year Plans

We go where our vision is. —JOSEPH MURPHY

Short-Term Disease

Ask a person on the street what he or she plans to do or be in five years and the likely reaction you will receive is a blank face. The truth is that most people just don’t envision themselves, let alone make plans, that far into the future. Research has shown that many often confuse medium-term with long-term tradeoffs and have difficulty with delayed gratification. A famous study by Walter Mischel, commonly referred to as the Stanford marshmallow experiment, showed that children who were able to refrain from eating a marshmallow in front of them—knowing that they would be rewarded with two later—were more likely to succeed as adults. Unfortunately, most of the children ...

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