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The Evolutionary Basis of Time Preference: Intergenerational Transfers and Sex

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  • Arthur J. Robson
  • Balazs Szentes
  • Emil Iantchev

Abstract

We consider the evolutionary basis of time discounting with intergenerational transfers. We show that the notion of "reproductive value" from biology provides the utility criterion for a parent to optimize the allocation of resources between transfers to offspring and to promote her own survival. This optimization has a natural dynamic programming formulation. We show that younger individuals may well be "too impatient," but older individuals "too patient" in accordance with observations. We compare the allocation of resources under sexual reproduction to that where there is asexual reproduction. Sex distorts time discounting; under plausible conditions, sex increases patience. (JEL A12, D91)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 172-201

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:172-201

Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.4.4.172
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