Hyperbolic discounting is rational: Valuing the far future with uncertain discount rates
AbstractConventional economics supposes that agents value the present vs. the future using an exponential discounting function. In contrast, experiments with animals and humans suggest that agents are better described as hyperbolic discounters, whose discount function decays much more slowly at large times, as a power law. This is generally regarded as being time inconsistent or irrational. We show that when agents cannot be sure of their own future one-period discount rates, then hyperbolic discounting can become rational and exponential discounting irrational. This has important implications for environmental economics, as it implies a much larger weight for the far future.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 814577000000000356.
Date of creation: 25 Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.dklevine.com/
Other versions of this item:
- J. Doyne Farmer & John Geanakoplos, 2009. "Hyperbolic Discounting Is Rational: Valuing the Far Future with Uncertain Discount Rates," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1719, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- D91 - Microeconomics - - Intertemporal Choice - - - Intertemporal Household Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
- G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-10-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBA-2009-10-03 (Central Banking)
- NEP-NEU-2009-10-03 (Neuroeconomics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Ho, Thomas S Y & Lee, Sang-bin, 1986. " Term Structure Movements and Pricing Interest Rate Contingent Claims," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(5), pages 1011-29, December.
- Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999.
"Doing It Now or Later,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
- Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
- Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003.
"Discounting the distant future: how much do uncertain rates increase valuations?,"
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 52-71, July.
- Pizer, William & Newell, Richard, 2000. "Discounting the Distant Future: How Much Do Uncertain Rates Increase Valuations?," Discussion Papers dp-00-45, Resources For the Future.
- Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
- Loewenstein, George & Prelec, Drazen, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-97, May.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- Is hyperbolic discounting rational?
by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-09-21 14:54:00
- The sickness of short-term-ism -- it's everywhere
by Mark Buchanan in The Physics of Finance on 2011-07-06 12:36:00
- Deep Discounting Errors?
by Mark Buchanan in The Physics of Finance on 2011-05-28 10:42:00
- Gaël Giraud & Céline Rochon, 2010. "Transition to Equilibrium in International Trades," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 10012, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
- Eric Crampton & Matt Burgess & Brad Taylor, 2011. "The Cost of Cost Studies," Working Papers in Economics 11/29, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
- Gaël Giraud & Céline Rochon, 2010. "Transition to Equilibrium in International Trades," UniversitÃ© Paris1 PanthÃ©on-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00657038, HAL.
- Boyarchenko, Svetlana & Levendorskii, Sergei, 2010. "Discounting when income is stochastic and climate change policies," MPRA Paper 27998, University Library of Munich, Germany.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David K. Levine).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.