IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Discounting and the Time Preference Rate: An Introduction


  • John Creedy
  • Ross Guest


This paper provides an introduction to the evaluation of alternative time streams of consumption and the closely related concept of time preference. The potential sensitivity of comparisons, especially to the choice of time preference rate and elasticity of marginal valuation, is demonstrated. The nature of time preference, based on an axiomatic approach, is then discussed. The analysis of optimisation over time leads to the concept of the social time preference rate, and a difficulty with using this rate is highlighted. Finally, complications introduced by non-income differences between individuals are examined. Emphasis is placed on the central role of value judgements.

Suggested Citation

  • John Creedy & Ross Guest, 2007. "Discounting and the Time Preference Rate: An Introduction," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 993, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:993

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter A. Diamond & Tjalling C. Koopmans & Richard E. Williamson, 1962. "Stationary Utility and Time Preference," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 142, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    2. John Creedy, 2007. "Discounting and the Social Time Preference Rate," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 989, The University of Melbourne.
    3. John Creedy, 2006. "Evaluating Policy: Welfare Weights And Value Judgements," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 971, The University of Melbourne.
    4. Glewwe, Paul, 1991. "Household equivalence scales and the measurement of inequality : Transfers from the poor to the rich could decrease inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 211-216, March.
    5. Anthony Shorrocks, 2004. "Inequality and welfare evaluation of heterogeneous income distributions," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 2(3), pages 193-218, July.
    6. Pasquale Scaramozzino & Giancarlo Marini, 2000. "Social time preference," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(4), pages 639-645.
    7. Shorrocks, Anthony, 2004. "Inequality and Welfare Evaluation of Heterogeneous Income Distributions," WIDER Working Paper Series 001, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:993. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dandapani Lokanathan). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.