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The evolutionary theory of time preferences and intergenerational transfers

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  • Cyrus Chu, C.Y.
  • Chien, Hung-Ken
  • Lee, Ronald D.

Abstract

Abstract At each age an organism produces energy by foraging and allocates this energy among reproduction, survival, growth, and intergenerational transfers. We characterize the optimal set of allocation decisions that maximizes fitness. Time preference (the discount rate) is derived from the marginal rate of substitution between energy obtained at two different times or ages, holding fitness constant. Time preference varies with age in different ways depending on whether an individual is immature or mature, and during the transition between these stages. We conclude that time preference and discount rates are likely to be U-shaped across age.

Suggested Citation

  • Cyrus Chu, C.Y. & Chien, Hung-Ken & Lee, Ronald D., 2010. "The evolutionary theory of time preferences and intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 451-464, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:451-464
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191.
    2. Arthur J. Robson & Larry Samuelson, 2009. "The Evolution of Time Preference with Aggregate Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1925-1953, December.
    3. Arthur J. Robson & Balazs Szentes, 2008. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1178-1188, June.
    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. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467-467.
    6. 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.
    7. David M. Bishai, 2004. "Does time preference change with age?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 17(4), pages 583-602, December.
    8. Laitner, John, 1979. "Household Bequests, Perfect Expectations, and the National Distribution of Wealth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1175-1193, September.
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    11. James W. Vaupel & Annette Baudisch & Martin Dölling & Deborah A. Roach & Jutta Gampe, 2004. "The case for negative senescence," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2004-002, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    12. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Evolution and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 718-729, May.
    13. Arthur J. Robson & Hillard S. Kaplan, 2003. "The Evolution of Human Life Expectancy and Intelligence in Hunter-Gatherer Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 150-169, March.
    14. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1990. "Malthusian Selection of Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 529-544, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Junji Kageyama, 2009. "On the intertemporal allocation of consumption, mortality and life-history strategies," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-008, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

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