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Discount Rate Heterogeneity Among Older Households: A Puzzle?

  • Antoine Bozio


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institut des Politiques Publiques, Paris School of Economics)

  • Guy Laroque


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Cormac O'Dea


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

We put forward a method for estimating individual discount rates using field data on wealth and income. We build consumption from these data using the budget constraint. At each date, consumption transitions yield discount rates by groups of households. We apply this technique to a representative sample of older English households. We show, unsurprisingly, that there is substantial heterogeneity in discounting in that population. We fi nd a distribution of discount rates similar in shape to those previously estimated using field data, though with much lower mean values than the ones found using experimental data. But surprisingly we find that, among this older population, patience is positively correlated with education and numerical ability. This is puzzling as it goes against the negative correlation found in experiments and some fi eld investigations of time preference for younger populations. We discuss potential explanations for this result.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W13/02.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:13/02
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