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Discounting, Values, and Decisions

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  • John K.-H. Quah
  • Bruno Strulovici

Abstract

How do discount rates affect agents' decisions and valuations? This paper provides a general method to analyze this question, allowing stochastic and managed cash flows, stochastic discount rates, and time inconsistency and including arbitrary learning and payoff or utility processes. We show that some of these features can lead to counterintuitive answers (e.g., "a more patient agent stops earlier"), but we also establish, under simple conditions, theorems yielding robust predictions concerning the impact of discount rates on control and stopping decisions and on valuations. We apply our theory to models of search, experimentation, bankruptcy, optimal growth, investment, and social learning.

Suggested Citation

  • John K.-H. Quah & Bruno Strulovici, 2013. "Discounting, Values, and Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(5), pages 896-939.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/673867
    DOI: 10.1086/673867
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bruno Strulovici & Martin Szydlowski, 2012. "On the Smoothness of Value Functions," Discussion Papers 1542, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chiaki Hara, 2019. "Heterogeneous Impatience of Individual Consumers and Decreasing Impatience of the Representative Consumer," KIER Working Papers 1009, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Bruno Strulovici & Martin Szydlowski, 2012. "On the Smoothness of Value Functions," Discussion Papers 1542, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    3. Alexandrer Groves, 2013. "Identifying What is Tempting," 2013 Papers pgr489, Job Market Papers.
    4. Matteo Escud'e & Ludvig Sinander, 2019. "Strategic research funding," Papers 1903.09055, arXiv.org.
    5. Sandroni, Alvaro & Urgun, Can, 2017. "Dynamics in Art of War," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 51-58.
    6. Ke, T. Tony & Villas-Boas, J. Miguel, 2019. "Optimal learning before choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 383-437.
    7. Strulovici, Bruno & Szydlowski, Martin, 2015. "On the smoothness of value functions and the existence of optimal strategies in diffusion models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PB), pages 1016-1055.
    8. Schosser, Josef, 2016. "Time (in)consistency and real options: Much ado about nothing?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 77-84.
    9. Choi, Kyoung Jin & Kwak, Minsuk & Shim, Gyoocheol, 2017. "Time preference and real investment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 18-33.
    10. Gorno, Leandro & Iachan, Felipe S., 2020. "Competitive real options under private information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 185(C).
    11. Ron Siegel & Bruno Strulovici, 2015. "On the Design of Criminal Trials: The Benefits of a Three-Verdict System," Discussion Papers 1581, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.

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