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Learning Temporal Preferences

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  • Miravete, Eugenio J
  • Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio

Abstract

We analyse households’ responses to an unanticipated change in consumption opportunities and evaluate their implications for the nature and formation of preferences. We study the tariff experiment conducted by South Central Bell where local telephone measured tariffs were introduced for the first time in Louisville, KY. Households were given the choice to remain in a flat rate scheme or switch to the new measured tariff scheme. The results of the analysis support models where consumers react to a change in the environment in the direction predicted by theories of rational investment in information. Households learn rapidly to undertake optimal decisions, and react to potential savings of seemingly small magnitude, typically about $5.00 per month. We find no support for models where consumers’ responses are determined by inertia or impulsiveness, including systematic tendencies to undervalue future wants common to models of hyperbolic discounting. From a methodological viewpoint, the analysis shows how the appropriate treatment of predetermined endogenous variables and state dependence turns out to be crucial for interpreting the data.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3604.

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Date of creation: Oct 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3604

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Keywords: dynamic consistency; dynamic discrete choice panel data analysis; learning; rationality;

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  1. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  2. Arellano, M & Carrasco, R, 1996. "Binary Choice Panel Data Models with Predetermined Variables," Papers 9618, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Y Financieros-.
  3. Simon, Herbert A, 1986. "Rationality in Psychology and Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S209-24, October.
  4. Christopher Harris & David Laibson, 2001. "Instantaneous Gratification," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 625018000000000267, www.najecon.org.
  5. Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt731230f8, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. Miravete, Eugenio J, 2000. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance, Learning, and Risk Aversion," CEPR Discussion Papers 2562, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
  8. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
  9. Bo E. Honoré & Ekaterini Kyriazidou, 2000. "Panel Data Discrete Choice Models with Lagged Dependent Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 839-874, July.
  10. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  11. Miravete, Eugenio J, 2002. "Estimating Demand for Local Telephone Service with Asymmetric Information and Optional Calling Plans," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 943-71, October.
  12. Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1994. "On the Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 98, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  13. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2003. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance and Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 297-310, March.
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