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Strotz Meets Allais: Diminishing Impatience and the Certainty Effect

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  • Yoram Halevy

Abstract

Decision makers tend to exhibit a higher degree of impatience when considering a delay to an immediate reward than when contemplating an identical delay to an equal future reward. This work argues that diminishing impatience originates from the distinction between the certain present and the risky future. A simple functional representation of preferences, exhibiting time inconsistency when the future is uncertain, is derived. Experimental evidence, which is inconsistent with other formulations that account for diminishing impatience, supports the proposed approach. The new theory uncovers a tight relation between diminishing impatience and well-known behavioral regularities in choice under risk and uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:3:p:1145-62
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.3.1145
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
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    3. Karni, Edi & Schmeidler, David, 1991. "Atemporal dynamic consistency and expected utility theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 401-408, August.
    4. Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-758.
    5. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    6. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    7. George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
    8. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    9. Daniel Ellsberg, 1961. "Risk, Ambiguity, and the Savage Axioms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 643-669.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

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