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Stability of Time Preferences

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Author Info

  • Meier, Stephan

    ()
    (Columbia University)

  • Sprenger, Charles

    ()
    (University of California, San Diego)

Abstract

Individuals frequently face intertemporal decisions. For the purposes of economic analysis, the preference parameters assumed to govern these decisions are generally considered to be stable economic primitives. However, evidence on the stability of time preferences is notably lacking. In a large field study conducted over two years with about 1,400 individuals, time preferences are elicited using incentivized choice experiments. The aggregate distributions of discount factors and the proportion of present-biased individuals are found to be unchanged over the two years. At the individual level, the one year correlations in measured time preference parameters are found to be high by existing standards, though some individuals change their intertemporal choices potentially indicating unstable preferences. By linking time preference measures to tax return data, we show that identified instability is uncorrelated with socio-demographics and changes to income, future liquidity, employment and family composition.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4756.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4756

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Related research

Keywords: preference stability; time preferences; experimental economics;

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References

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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. IZA Paper: Stability of Time Preferences
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2011-02-28 01:19:00
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Cited by:
  1. Bruderer Enzler, Heidi & Diekmann, Andreas & Meyer, Reto, 2014. "Subjective discount rates in the general population and their predictive power for energy saving behavior," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 524-540.
  2. Volk, Stefan & Thöni, Christian & Ruigrok, Winfried, 2012. "Temporal stability and psychological foundations of cooperation preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 664-676.
  3. Markus Sass & Joachim Weimann, 2012. "The Dynamics of Individual Preferences in Repeated Public Good Experiments," FEMM Working Papers 120002, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
  4. Charles J. Courtemanche & Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah, 2011. "Impatience, Incentives, and Obesity," NBER Working Papers 17483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kristopher Gerardi & Lorenz Goette & Stephan Meier, 2010. "Financial literacy and subprime mortgage delinquency: evidence from a survey matched to administrative data," Working Paper 2010-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  6. Uschi Backes-Gellner & Yvonne Oswald, 2012. "Learning for a bonus: How financial incentives interact with preferences," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0079, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).

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