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Saving Decisions of the Working Poor: Short-and Long-Term Horizons

  • Catherine Eckel
  • Cathleen Johnson
  • Claude Montmarquette

We explore the predictive capacity of short-horizon time preference decisions for long-horizon investment decisions. We use experimental evidence from a sample of Canadian working poor. Each subject made a set of decisions trading off present and future amounts of money. Decisions involved both short and long time horizons, with stakes ranging up to six hundred dollars. Short horizon preference decisions do well in predicting the long-horizon investment decisions. These short horizon questions are much less expensive to administer but yield much higher estimated discount rates. We find no evidence that the present-biased preference measures generated from the short-horizon time preference decisions indicate any bias in long-term investment decisions. We also show that individuals are heterogeneous with respect to discount rates generated by short-horizon time preference decisions and long-horizon time preference decisions. Dans cet article, nous évaluons si les préférences exprimées pour le présent peuvent prédire les décisions d'investissement dans le long terme. L'article mobilise l'approche de l'économie expérimentale avec comme participants des travailleurs canadiens à faibles revenus. Chaque participant est invité à choisir entre une somme qu'il peut toucher à très court terme et un montant plus élevé, mais qui ne lui sera versé que plus tard dans le temps. Pour certains choix, les montants ne seront disponibles que dans 7 ans et peuvent atteindre jusqu'à 600 $. Nous trouvons que les décisions entre le présent et un horizon de court terme permettent de prédire les arbitrages réalisés par les participants entre le présent et des décisions à plus long terme. Ce résultat est important dans la mesure où il est plus difficile et coûteux d'étudier les décisions de long terme que celles de court terme. Nous observons également une forte hétérogénéité entre les participants relativement à leurs taux d'escompte de court et de long terme.

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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2004s-45.

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Length: 66 pages
Date of creation: 01 Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2004s-45
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  1. Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Claude Montmarquette, . "Will the Working Poor Invest in Human Capital? A Laboratory Experiment," CIRANO Project Reports 2002rp-08, CIRANO.
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