Direct Measures of Time Preference
This work constitutes an attempt to estimate time preference factors in a direct way from survey data, without relying on consumption data and on particular estimation techniques. By using microeconomic data obtained from the Bank of Italy Survey of Household Income and Wealth (for the year 2000) and a simple second order Taylor expansion of a generic utility function we will compute, for each agent, a utility discount factor. The interesting features of the dataset will also enable us to relate discount factors to a large number of social, economic, and demographic variables. Agents do appear to discount future utility flows at rates which vary across age, education, civil status, income and wealth situations; more importantly, it is suggested that risk and market incompleteness should be considered as important determinants of time preference parameters.
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