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Risk Preferences Are Not Time Preferences*

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  • James Andreoni
  • Charles Sprenger

Abstract

Risk and time are intertwined. The present is known while the future is inherently risky. This is problematic when studying time preferences since uncontrolled risk can generate apparently present-biased behavior. We systematically manipulate risk in an intertemporal choice experiment. Discounted expected utility performs well with risk, but when certainty is added common ratio predictions fail sharply. The data cannot be explained by prospect theory, hyperbolic discounting, or preferences for resolution of uncertainty, but seem consistent with a direct preference for certainty. The data suggest strongly a difference between risk and time preferences. (JEL C91 D81 D91)

Suggested Citation

  • James Andreoni & Charles Sprenger, 2012. "Risk Preferences Are Not Time Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3357-3376, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:7:p:3357-76
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.7.3357
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    2. Uri Gneezy & John A. List & George Wu, 2006. "The Uncertainty Effect: When a Risky Prospect is Valued Less than its Worst Possible Outcome," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1283-1309.
    3. Keren, Gideon & Roelofsma, Peter, 1995. "Immediacy and Certainty in Intertemporal Choice," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 287-297, September.
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    5. Maribeth Coller & Melonie Williams, 1999. "Eliciting Individual Discount Rates," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(2), pages 107-127, December.
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    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    8. Yoram Halevy, 2008. "Strotz Meets Allais: Diminishing Impatience and the Certainty Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1145-1162, June.
    9. Weber, Bethany J. & Chapman, Gretchen B., 2005. "The combined effects of risk and time on choice: Does uncertainty eliminate the immediacy effect? Does delay eliminate the certainty effect?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 104-118, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Chris Starmer, 2000. "Developments in Non-expected Utility Theory: The Hunt for a Descriptive Theory of Choice under Risk," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 332-382, June.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Replication

    This item has been replicated by:
  • Stephen L. Cheung, 2015. "Risk Preferences Are Not Time Preferences: On the Elicitation of Time Preference under Conditions of Risk: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(7), pages 2242-2260, July.
  • More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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    1. Risk Preferences Are Not Time Preferences (AER 2012) in ReplicationWiki

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