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Why Do Dancers Smoke? Time Preference, Occupational Choice, and Wage Growth

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  • Lalith Munasinghe
  • Nachum Sicherman

Abstract

Time preference is a key determinant of occupational choice and investments in human capital. Since careers are characterized by different wage growth prospects, individual discount rates play an important role in the relative valuation of jobs or occupations. We predict that individuals with lower discount rates are more likely to select into jobs or occupations with steeper wage profiles. To test this hypothesis we use smoking as an instrument for time preference. Panel data from the NLSY (1979-94) are ideal for our purposes since it contains information on smoking behavior in addition to detailed work histories and other socio-economic variables. We find that smokers have substantially flatter wage profiles, and a higher marginal rate of substitution of current wages for future wages. Incidentally, a survey of several hundred undergraduates at Barnard and Columbia College show that dance majors have the highest smoking rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Lalith Munasinghe & Nachum Sicherman, 2000. "Why Do Dancers Smoke? Time Preference, Occupational Choice, and Wage Growth," NBER Working Papers 7542, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7542
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. William N. Evans & Edward Montgomery, 1994. "Education and Health: Where There's Smoke There's an Instrument," NBER Working Papers 4949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kenkel, Donald S, 1991. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 287-305, April.
    3. Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard H, 1989. "Intertemporal Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 181-193, Fall.
    4. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 93-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Michael Grossman, 1976. "The Correlation between Health and Schooling," NBER Chapters,in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 147-224 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Matt Dickson, 2013. "The Causal Effect of Education on Wages Revisited," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 75(4), pages 477-498, August.
    2. Stefano DellaVigna & M. Daniele Paserman, 2005. "Job Search and Impatience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 527-588, July.
    3. Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2005. "Social isolation and inequality," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 3(3), pages 243-262, December.
    4. Morgan, Donald P., 2007. "Defining and detecting predatory lending," Staff Reports 273, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    5. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
    6. Dohmen, Thomas, 2014. "Behavioral labor economics: Advances and future directions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 71-85.
    7. repec:pri:cheawb:llerasmuney1 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Harrell Chesson & Jami Leichliter & Gregory Zimet & Susan Rosenthal & David Bernstein & Kenneth Fife, 2006. "Discount rates and risky sexual behaviors among teenagers and young adults," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 217-230, May.
    9. Russell James, 2009. "Tenant time preference as a barrier to homeownership," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(10), pages 1073-1077.
    10. Annemarie Nelen & Andries de Grip, 2009. "Why Do Part-time Workers Invest Less in Human Capital than Full-timers?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 23(s1), pages 61-83, March.
    11. Elena Gouskova & Ngina Chiteji & Frank Stafford, 2010. "Pension Participation: Do Parents Transmit Time Preference?," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 138-150, June.
    12. Fersterer, Josef & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2003. "Smoking, discount rates, and returns to education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 561-566, December.
    13. Borghans, Lex & Golsteyn, Bart H.H., 2005. "Time Discounting and the Body Mass Index," IZA Discussion Papers 1597, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Arabsheibani, Reza & Staneva, Anita, 2012. "Returns to Education in Russia: Where There Is Risky Sexual Behaviour There Is Also an Instrument," IZA Discussion Papers 6726, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Victor Rios-Rull & Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2005. "Health and Heterogeneity," 2005 Meeting Papers 644, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Borghans, Lex & Golsteyn, Bart H.H., 2006. "Time discounting and the body mass index: Evidence from the Netherlands," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 39-61, January.
    17. Finke, Michael S. & Huston, Sandra J., 2013. "Time preference and the importance of saving for retirement," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 23-34.
    18. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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