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Time Preferences and Consumer Behavior

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  • David Bradford
  • Charles Courtemanche
  • Garth Heutel
  • Patrick McAlvanah
  • Christopher Ruhm

Abstract

We investigate the predictive power of survey-elicited time preferences using a representative sample of US residents. In regressions controlling for demographics and risk preferences, we show that the discount factor elicited from choice experiments using multiple price lists and real payments predicts various health, energy, and financial outcomes, including overall self-reported health, smoking, drinking, car fuel efficiency, and credit card balance. We allow for time-inconsistent preferences and find that the long-run and present bias discount factors (δ and β) are each significantly associated in the expected direction with several of these outcomes. Finally, we explore alternate measures of time preference. Elicited discount factors are correlated with several such measures, including self-reported willpower. A multiple proxies approach using these alternate measures shows that our estimated associations between the time-consistent discount factor and health, energy, and financial outcomes may be conservative.

Suggested Citation

  • David Bradford & Charles Courtemanche & Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah & Christopher Ruhm, 2014. "Time Preferences and Consumer Behavior," NBER Working Papers 20320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20320
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    Cited by:

    1. Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2016. "Hyperbolic discounting can be good for your health," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 11/2016, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    2. Schleich, Joachim & Gassmann, Xavier & Faure, Corinne & Meissner, Thomas, 2016. "Making the implicit explicit: A look inside the implicit discount rate," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 321-331.
    3. Kaywana Raeburn & Jim Engle-Warnick & Sonia Laszlo, 2016. "Determinants of Food Consumption Choices: Experimental Evidence from St. Kitts," CIRANO Working Papers 2016s-43, CIRANO.
    4. Conell-Price, Lynn & Jamison, Julian, 2015. "Predicting health behaviors with economic preferences & locus of control," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-9.
    5. Carroll, Kathryn A. & Samek, Anya Savikhin & Zepeda, Lydia, 2016. "Product Bundling as a Behavioral Nudge: Investigating Consumer Fruit and Vegetable Selection using Dual-Self Theory," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236130, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Victor Stango & Joanne Yoong & Jonathan Zinman, 2017. "The Quest for Parsimony in Behavioral Economics: New Methods and Evidence on Three Fronts," NBER Working Papers 23057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Tatiana Kossova & Elena Kossova & Maria Sheluntcova, 2014. "Estimating the Relationship Between Rate of Time Preferences And Socio-Economic Factors In Russia," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(1), pages 39-68.
    8. Hardardottir, Hjördis, 2016. "Long Term Stability of Time Preferences and the Role of the Macroeconomic Situation," Working Papers 2016:5, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 29 Aug 2016.
    9. Gopi Shah Goda & Matthew R. Levy & Colleen Flaherty Manchester & Aaron Sojourner & Joshua Tasoff, 2015. "The Role of Time Preferences and Exponential-Growth Bias in Retirement Savings," NBER Working Papers 21482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Victor Stango & Joanne Yoong & Jonathan Zinman, 2017. "Quicksand or Bedrock for Behavioral Economics? Assessing Foundational Empirical Questions," NBER Working Papers 23625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Robert L. Clark & Robert G. Hammond & Christelle Khalaf & Melinda Sandler Morrill, 2017. "Planning for Retirement? The Importance of Time Preferences," NBER Working Papers 23501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Garth Heutel, 2017. "Prospect Theory and Energy Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 23692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Galizzi, Matteo M. & Miraldo, Marisa & Stavropoulou, Charitini & van der Pol, Marjon, 2016. "Doctor–patient differences in risk and time preferences: A field experiment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 171-182.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General

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