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Obesity And Hyperbolic Discounting: An Experimental Analysis

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  • Richards, Timothy J.
  • Hamilton, Stephen F.
  • Pofahl, Geoffrey M.

Abstract

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, we develop a model of present bias and apparently hyperbolic discounting that is fully consistent with rational behavior. We construct an experiment to test our hypothesis and to determine whether discount rates differ for individuals who engage in behaviors that could endanger their health. 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Richards, Timothy J. & Hamilton, Stephen F. & Pofahl, Geoffrey M., 2010. "Obesity And Hyperbolic Discounting: An Experimental Analysis," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116410, European Association of Agricultural Economists;Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:eaa115:116410
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Vasilios Kosteas, 2015. "Physical activity and time preference," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 361-386, December.
    2. Ouayogodé, Mariétou H., 2016. "Effectiveness of weight loss intervention in highly-motivated people," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 263-282.
    3. Tatiana Kossova & Elena Kossova & Maria Sheluntcova, 2017. "Alcohol consumption and individual time preferences of Russians," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 64(1), pages 47-85, March.
    4. Therese Grijalva & Jayson Lusk & W. Shaw, 2014. "Discounting the Distant Future: An Experimental Investigation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 59(1), pages 39-63, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    addiction; discounting; experiments; hyperbolic; obesity; time-inconsistency; Agricultural and Food Policy; Consumer/Household Economics; Demand and Price Analysis; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty; Health Economics and Policy; C91; D12; D91; I18;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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