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The Personal Discount Rate: Evidence from Military Downsizing Programs

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  • Saul Pleeter
  • John T. Warner

Abstract

The military drawdown program of the early 1990s provides an opportunity to obtain estimates of personal discount rates based on large numbers of people making real choices involving large sums. The program offered over 65,000 separatees the choice between an annuity and a lump-sum payment. Despite break-even discount rates exceeding 17 percent, most of the separatees selected the lump sum--saving taxpayers $1.7 billion in separation costs. Estimates of discount rates range from 0 to over 30 percent and vary with education, age, race, sex, number of dependents, ability test score, and the size of payment.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 91 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 33-53

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:91:y:2001:i:1:p:33-53

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.1.33
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  1. Matthew S. Goldberg & John T. Warner, 1987. "Military Experience, Civilian Experience, and the Earnings of Veterans," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(1), pages 61-81.
  2. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stephen Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 24-85, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  5. Dermot Gately, 1980. "Individual Discount Rates and the Purchase and Utilization of Energy-Using Durables: Comment," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 373-374, Spring.
  6. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
  7. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
  8. Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
  9. Daula, Thomas & Moffitt, Robert, 1995. "Estimating Dynamic Models of Quit Behavior: The Case of Military Reenlistment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 499-523, July.
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