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The Personal Discount Rate: Evidence from Military Downsizing Programs

Author

Listed:
  • Saul Pleeter
  • John T. Warner

Abstract

The military drawdown program of the early 1990s provides an opportunity to obtain estimates of personal discount rates based on large numbers of people making real choices involving large sums. The program offered over 65,000 separatees the choice between an annuity and a lump-sum payment. Despite break-even discount rates exceeding 17 percent, most of the separatees selected the lump sum--saving taxpayers $1.7 billion in separation costs. Estimates of discount rates range from 0 to over 30 percent and vary with education, age, race, sex, number of dependents, ability test score, and the size of payment.

Suggested Citation

  • Saul Pleeter & John T. Warner, 2001. "The Personal Discount Rate: Evidence from Military Downsizing Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 33-53, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:91:y:2001:i:1:p:33-53
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.1.33
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.91.1.33
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
    2. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-346, April.
    3. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert Tamura, 1994. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 323-350 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Daula, Thomas & Moffitt, Robert, 1995. "Estimating Dynamic Models of Quit Behavior: The Case of Military Reenlistment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 499-523, July.
    5. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-895, October.
    6. Dermot Gately, 1980. "Individual Discount Rates and the Purchase and Utilization of Energy-Using Durables: Comment," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 373-374, Spring.
    7. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
    8. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
    9. Matthew S. Goldberg & John T. Warner, 1987. "Military Experience, Civilian Experience, and the Earnings of Veterans," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(1), pages 61-81.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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