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Avoiding the Curves: Direct Elicitation of Time Preferences

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  • Susan K. Laury
  • Melayne Morgan McInnes
  • J. Todd Swarthout
  • Erica Von Nessen

Abstract

We propose and test a new method for eliciting curvature-controlled discount rates that are invariant to the form of the utility function. The advantage of this method is that individual discount rates can be obtained without knowledge of risk attitude or parametric assumptions about the form of the utility function. We compare our single elicitation method that does not require estimation of the utility function to the Andersen et al. (2008) double elicitation technique in which the utility function and discount rates are jointly estimated. We use a laboratory experiment to perform a within-subjects comparison of discount rates from these two methods and find consistent results, which is reassuring given the wide range of estimates in the literature. In addition, the estimated discount rates in our study are "plausibly low" in contrast to the vast majority of other discount rate studies. Average discount rates are estimated to be between 12.2 and 14.1 percent. Our results are robust to relaxing the expected utility assumption of linearity in the probabilities, as we find little evidence of probability weighting in our data.

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File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2011-01.pdf
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File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2012-05.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2011-01.

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Length: 36
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision: Mar 2012
Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2011-01

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  1. Keller, L Robin & Strazzera, Elisabetta, 2002. " Examining Predictive Accuracy Among Discounting Models," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 143-60, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Blake, David & Wright, Douglas & Zhang, Yumeng, 2014. "Age-dependent investing: Optimal funding and investment strategies in defined contribution pension plans when members are rational life cycle financial planners," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 105-124.
  2. Diego Ubfal, 2013. "How General Are Time Preferences? Eliciting Good-Specific Discount Rates," Working Papers 473, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. Cheung, Stephen L., 2013. "On the Elicitation of Time Preference under Conditions of Risk," Working Papers 2013-15, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  4. Howard, Gregory, 2013. "Discounting for personal and social payments: Patience for others, impatience for ourselves," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 583-597.
  5. Holden, Stein, 2014. "Explaining anomalies in intertemporal choice: A mental zooming theory," CLTS Working Papers 2/14, Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
  6. Holden, Stein, 2013. "High discount rates: - An artifact caused by poorly framed experiments or a result of people being poor and vulnerable?," CLTS Working Papers 8/13, Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
  7. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Han Bleichrodt & Olivier l’Haridon, 2013. "Sign-dependence in intertemporal choice," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 47(3), pages 225-253, December.

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