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Obesity and Hyperbolic Discounting: An Experimental Analysis

  • Richards, Timothy J.
  • Hamilton, Stephen F.

Models of rational addiction suggest that obesity is consistent with time-consistent preferences. Behavioral economists maintain that addictions such as alcoholism, smoking and over-eating represent examples of present-bias in decision making that is fundamentally irrational. In this article, conduct an experiment to test whether individual discount schedules are time-consistent and whether discount rates are higher for subjects who exhibit patterns of risky behavior. Our results show that discount functions are quasi-hyperbolic in shape, and that obesity and drinking are positively related to the discount rate. Anti-obesity policy, therefore, would be best directed to informing individuals as to the long-term implications of short-term gratification, rather than taxing foods directly

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/134219
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Article provided by Western Agricultural Economics Association in its journal Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 37 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:ags:jlaare:134219
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://waeaonline.org/

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