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Individual discount rates and smoking: Evidence from a field experiment in Denmark

  • Harrison, Glenn W.
  • Lau, Morten I.
  • Rutström, E. Elisabet

We elicit measures of individual discount rates from a representative sample of the Danish population and test two substantive hypotheses. The first hypothesis is that smokers have higher individual discount rates than non-smokers. The second hypothesis is that smokers are more likely to have time inconsistent preferences than non-smokers, where time inconsistency is indicated by a hyperbolic discounting function. We control for the concavity of the utility function in our estimates of individual discount rates and find that male smokers have significantly higher discount rates than male non-smokers. However, smoking has no significant association with discount rates among women. This result is robust across exponential and hyperbolic discounting functions. We consider the sensitivity of our conclusions to a statistical specification that allows each observation to potentially be generated by more than one latent data-generating process.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 708-717

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:29:y:2010:i:5:p:708-717
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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  1. Elisabet Rutstrom & Glenn Harrison & Melonie Williams & Morten Lau, 2002. "Estimating individual discount rates in denmark: A field experiment," Artefactual Field Experiments 00062, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Christopher Chabris & David Laibson & Carrie Morris & Jonathon Schuldt & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2008. "Individual laboratory-measured discount rates predict field behavior," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 237-269, December.
  3. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 2006. "A Dual-Self Model of Impulse Control," Scholarly Articles 3196335, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  5. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 511, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  6. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: New Data without Order Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 902-912, June.
  7. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  8. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2007. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark: A Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 341-368, 06.
  9. Anderson, Lisa R. & Mellor, Jennifer M., 2008. "Predicting health behaviors with an experimental measure of risk preference," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1260-1274, September.
  10. Andersen, Steffen & Harrison, Glenn W. & Lau, Morten Igel & Rutström, E. Elisabet, 2010. "Preference heterogeneity in experiments: Comparing the field and laboratory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 209-224, February.
  11. W. Kip Viscusi & Joni Hersch, 2001. "Cigarette Smokers As Job Risk Takers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 269-280, May.
  12. Harrison, Glen W. & Ronald M. Harstad & E. Elisabet Rutström, 1995. "Experimental Methods and Elicitation of Values," Discussion Paper Serie B 349, University of Bonn, Germany.
  13. Jahn K. Hakes & W. Kip Viscusi, 2007. "Automobile Seatbelt Usage and the Value of Statistical Life," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 659–676, January.
  14. Maribeth Coller & Melonie Williams, 1999. "Eliciting Individual Discount Rates," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 107-127, December.
  15. Glenn Harrison & E. Rutström, 2009. "Expected utility theory and prospect theory: one wedding and a decent funeral," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 133-158, June.
  16. Glenn W. Harrison & James P. Feehan & Alison C. Edwards & Jorge Segovia, 2003. "Cigarette Smoking and the Cost of Hospital and Physician Care," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-19, March.
  17. Blondel, Serge & Loheac, Youenn & Rinaudo, Stephane, 2007. "Rationality and drug use: An experimental approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 643-658, May.
  18. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2003. "Cluster-Sample Methods in Applied Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 133-138, May.
  19. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Eliciting Risk and Time Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 583-618, 05.
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