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The Evolution of Time Preference with Aggregate Uncertainty

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  • Arthur J. Robson
  • Larry Samuelson

Abstract

We examine the evolutionary foundations of intertemporal preferences. When all the risk affecting survival and reproduction is idiosyncratic, evolution selects for agents who maximize the discounted sum of expected utility, discounting at the sum of the population growth rate and the mortality rate. Aggregate uncertainty concerning survival rates leads to discount rates that exceed the sum of population growth rate and death rate, and can push agents away from exponential discounting. (JEL D11, D81, D91)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.99.5.1925
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/dec09/20080116_app.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1925-53

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:5:p:1925-53

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.5.1925
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References

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  1. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
  2. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  3. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
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  7. Rogers, Alan R, 1994. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 460-81, June.
  8. Bettinger, Eric & Slonim, Robert, 2007. "Patience among children," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 343-363, February.
  9. Larry Samuelson & Arthur J. Robson, 2007. "The Evolution of Intertemporal Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 496-500, May.
  10. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
  11. Curry, Philip A., 2001. "Decision Making under Uncertainty and the Evolution of Interdependent Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 357-369, June.
  12. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1990. "Malthusian Selection of Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 529-44, June.
  13. 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.
  14. Partha Dasgupta & Eric Maskin, 2005. "Uncertainty and Hyperbolic Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1290-1299, September.
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  16. Robson, Arthur J., 1996. "A Biological Basis for Expected and Non-expected Utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 397-424, February.
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  18. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Eliciting Risk and Time Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 583-618, 05.
  19. Arthur J. Robson & Balazs Szentes, 2008. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1178-88, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. repec:cge:warwcg:155 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Alonso, Ricardo & Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D, 2011. "Resource Allocation in the Brain," CEPR Discussion Papers 8408, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Junji Kageyama, 2011. "The intertemporal allocation of consumption, time preference, and life-history strategies," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 79-95, July.
  4. Jain, Sanjay & Majumdar, Sumon & Mukand, Sharun, 2013. "Walk the Line: Conflict, State Capacity and the Political Dynamics of Reform," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 156, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  5. Cyrus Chu, C.Y. & Chien, Hung-Ken & Lee, Ronald D., 2010. "The evolutionary theory of time preferences and intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 451-464, December.
  6. Fabrizio Adriani & Silvia Sonderegger, . "Evolution of similarity judgements in intertemporal choice," Discussion Papers 2014-06, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  7. Frenkel, Sivan & Heller, Yuval & Teper, Roee, 2012. "Endowment as a blessing," MPRA Paper 39430, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 30 Apr 2012.
  8. Jeffery Flory & Uri Gneezy & Kenneth Leonard & John List, 2012. "Sex, competitiveness, and investment in offspring: On the origin of preferences," Artefactual Field Experiments 00072, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Sanjay Jain & Sumon Majumdar & Sharun Mukand, 2014. "Walk the Line: Conflict, State Capacity and the Political Dynamics of Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 4648, CESifo Group Munich.

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