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Which Measures of Time Preference Best Predict Outcomes? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment

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Author Info

  • Burks, Stephen V.

    ()
    (University of Minnesota, Morris)

  • Carpenter, Jeffrey P.

    ()
    (Middlebury College)

  • Götte, Lorenz

    ()
    (University of Lausanne)

  • Rustichini, Aldo

    ()
    (University of Minnesota)

Abstract

Economists and psychologists have devised numerous instruments to measure time preferences and have generated a rich literature examining the extent to which time preferences predict important outcomes; however, we still do not know which measures work best. With the help of a large sample of non-student participants (truck driver trainees) and administrative data on outcomes, we gather four different time preference measures and test the extent to which they predict both on their own and when they are all forced to compete head-to-head. Our results suggest that the now familiar (β, δ) formulation of present bias and exponential discounting predicts best, especially when both parameters are used.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5808.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5808

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Keywords: present bias; discounting; impatience; time preference; field experiment; trucker;

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  1. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672, May.
  3. John List & David Reiley, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments, The Field Experiments Website 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Meier, Stephan & Sprenger, Charles, 2009. "Present-Biased Preferences and Credit Card Borrowing," IZA Discussion Papers 4198, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Gabriel Picone & Frank Sloan & Donald Taylor, 2004. "Effects of Risk and Time Preference and Expected Longevity on Demand for Medical Tests," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 39-53, January.
  6. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & Melonie B. Williams, 2002. "Estimating Individual Discount Rates in Denmark: A Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1606-1617, December.
  7. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2008. "Lying About Borrowing," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 510-521, 04-05.
  8. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  9. Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Claude Montmarquette, 2004. "Saving Decisions of the Working Poor: Short-and Long-Term Horizons," CIRANO Working Papers, CIRANO 2004s-45, CIRANO.
  10. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
  11. Stephen V. Burks & Jeffrey Carpenter & Lorenz Götte & Kristen Monaco & Kay Porter & Aldo Rustichini, 2008. "Using Behavioral Economic Field Experiments at a Firm: The Context and Design of the Truckers and Turnover Project," NBER Chapters, in: The Analysis of Firms and Employees: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, pages 45-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy & Tom Tyler, 2007. "Measuring Self-Control Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 966-972, June.
  13. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  14. Chabris, Christopher F. & Laibson, David I. & Morris, Carrie L. & Schuldt, Jonathon P. & Taubinsky, Dmitry, 2008. "Individual Laboratory-Measured Discount Rates Predict Field Behavior," Scholarly Articles 11130522, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Maribeth Coller & Melonie Williams, 1999. "Eliciting Individual Discount Rates," Experimental Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 107-127, December.
  16. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362, February.
  17. Catherine C. Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Claude Montmarquette & Christian Rojas, 2007. "Debt Aversion and the Demand for Loans for Postsecondary Education," Public Finance Review, , , vol. 35(2), pages 233-262, March.
  18. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Götte, Lorenz & Rustichini, Aldo, 2008. "Cognitive Skills Explain Economic Preferences, Strategic Behavior, and Job Attachment," IZA Discussion Papers 3609, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Citations

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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, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 524-540.
  2. Stephen V. Burks & Connor Lewis & Paul Kivia & Amanda Wiener & Jon E. Anderson & Lorenz Götten & Colin DeYoung & Aldo Rustichini, 2014. "Moving Ahead by Thinking Backwards: Cognitive Skills, Personality, and Economic Preferences in Collegiate Success," Discussion Papers, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham 2014-01, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Rustichini, Aldo & DeYoung, Colin G. & Anderson, Jon E. & Burks, Stephen V., 2012. "Toward the Integration of Personality Theory and Decision Theory in the Explanation of Economic and Health Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 6750, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. David Bradford & Charles Courtemanche & Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah & Christopher Ruhm, 2014. "Time Preferences and Consumer Behavior," NBER Working Papers 20320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2012. "Interpreting Time Horizon Effects in Inter-Temporal Choice," CESifo Working Paper Series 3750, CESifo Group Munich.

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