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Estimating Time Preferences from Convex Budgets

Listed author(s):
  • James Andreoni
  • Charles Sprenger

Experimentally elicited discount rates are frequently higher than what seems reasonable for economic decision-making. Such high rates are often attributed to present-biased discounting. A well-known bias of standard measurements is the assumption of linear consumption utility. Attempting to correct this bias using measures of risk aversion to identify concavity, researchers find reasonable discounting but at the cost of exceptionally high utility function curvature. We present a new methodology for identifying time preferences, both discounting and curvature, from simple allocation decisions. We find reasonable levels of both discounting and curvature and, surprisingly, dynamically consistent time preferences. (JEL C91, D12, D81)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 7 (December)
Pages: 3333-3356

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:7:p:3333-56
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.7.3333
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  1. Maribeth Coller & Melonie Williams, 1999. "Eliciting Individual Discount Rates," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(2), pages 107-127, December.
  2. Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Economics Working Papers E00-279, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. 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.
  4. Reuben, Ernesto & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2008. "Time discounting for primary and monetary rewards," MPRA Paper 10650, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  7. 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).
  8. Robin Cubitt & Daniel Read, 2007. "Can intertemporal choice experiments elicit time preferences for consumption?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(4), pages 369-389, December.
  9. Schoemaker, Paul J H, 1982. "The Expected Utility Model: Its Variants, Purposes, Evidence and Limitations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 529-563, June.
  10. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Schupp, Jürgen & Sunde, Uwe & Wagner, Gert Georg, 2006. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 5517, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. 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.
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  16. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Enrico Diecidue & Ulrich Schmidt & Peter P. Wakker, 2004. "The Utility of Gambling Reconsidered," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 241-259, December.
  18. Stephan Meier & Charles Sprenger, 2010. "Present-Biased Preferences and Credit Card Borrowing," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 193-210, January.
  19. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
  20. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
  21. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Eliciting Risk and Time Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 583-618, 05.
  22. Cagetti, Marco, 2003. "Wealth Accumulation over the Life Cycle and Precautionary Savings," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 21(3), pages 339-353, July.
  23. Benhabib, Jess & Bisin, Alberto & Schotter, Andrew, 2010. "Present-bias, quasi-hyperbolic discounting, and fixed costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 205-223, July.
  24. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  25. Jerry A. Hausman, 1979. "Individual Discount Rates and the Purchase and Utilization of Energy-Using Durables," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 33-54, Spring.
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