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Avoiding the Curves: Direct Elicitation of Time Preferences

  • Susan K. Laury
  • Melayne Morgan McInnes
  • J. Todd Swarthout
  • Erica Von Nessen

We propose and test a new method for eliciting curvature-controlled discount rates that are invariant to the form of the utility function. The advantage of this method is that individual discount rates can be obtained without knowledge of risk attitude or parametric assumptions about the form of the utility function. We compare our single elicitation method that does not require estimation of the utility function to the Andersen et al. (2008) double elicitation technique in which the utility function and discount rates are jointly estimated. We use a laboratory experiment to perform a within-subjects comparison of discount rates from these two methods and find consistent results, which is reassuring given the wide range of estimates in the literature. In addition, the estimated discount rates in our study are "plausibly low" in contrast to the vast majority of other discount rate studies. Average discount rates are estimated to be between 12.2 and 14.1 percent. Our results are robust to relaxing the expected utility assumption of linearity in the probabilities, as we find little evidence of probability weighting in our data.

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File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2011-01.pdf
File Function: First version, 2011
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File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2012-05.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2012
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Paper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2011-01.

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Length: 36
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision: Mar 2012
Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2011-01
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  1. Thomas Epper & Helga Fehr-Duda & Adrian Bruhin, 2010. "Viewing the future through a warped lens: why uncertainty generates hyperbolic discounting," IEW - Working Papers 510, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  3. Drew Fudenberg & David K Levine, 2005. "A Dual Self Model of Impulse Control," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000876, David K. Levine.
  4. Keller, L Robin & Strazzera, Elisabetta, 2002. " Examining Predictive Accuracy Among Discounting Models," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 143-60, March.
  5. David M Kreps & Evan L Porteus, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000009, David K. Levine.
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  7. Keith Coble & Jayson Lusk, 2010. "At the nexus of risk and time preferences: An experimental investigation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 67-79, August.
  8. Charles M. Harvey, 1986. "Value Functions for Infinite-Period Planning," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(9), pages 1123-1139, September.
  9. Noor, Jawwad, 2009. "Hyperbolic discounting and the standard model: Eliciting discount functions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(5), pages 2077-2083, September.
  10. James Andreoni & Charles Sprenger, 2010. "Estimating Time Preferences from Convex Budgets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000457, David K. Levine.
  11. Maribeth Coller & Melonie Williams, 1999. "Eliciting Individual Discount Rates," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 107-127, December.
  12. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  13. Drazen Prelec, 1998. "The Probability Weighting Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 497-528, May.
  14. Henry Stott, 2006. "Cumulative prospect theory's functional menagerie," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 101-130, March.
  15. Hans Binswanger, 1980. "Attitudes toward risk: Experimental measurement in rural india," Artefactual Field Experiments 00009, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. Kirsten Rohde, 2010. "The hyperbolic factor: A measure of time inconsistency," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 125-140, October.
  17. 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.
  18. Lisa Anderson & Sarah Stafford, 2009. "Individual decision-making experiments with risk and intertemporal choice," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 51-72, February.
  19. Hey, John D & Orme, Chris, 1994. "Investigating Generalizations of Expected Utility Theory Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1291-1326, November.
  20. Takeuchi, Kan, 2011. "Non-parametric test of time consistency: Present bias and future bias," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 456-478, March.
  21. 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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