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Revealed Bounded rationality:Testing present bias in a Rational Addiction Equation

  • Pierpaolo Pierani


  • Silvia Tiezzi


This paper deals with one of the main theoretical and empirical problems associated with the rational addiction model, namely that the demand equation derived from the rational addiction theory is not empirically distinguishable from models with forward-looking behavior, but with timeinconsistent preferences. The implication is that, even when forward-looking behavior can be convincingly supported, this equation cannot provide evidence in favor of time-consistent preferences against a model with dynamic inconsistency. In fact, we show that the possibility of testing for exponential versus non-exponential time discounting is nested within the rational addiction model. We propose a test of time consistency that uses only the information obtained from the general rational addiction demand equation and the price effects. A pseudo panel of Italian households is used to test for rational addiction in tobacco consumption. GMM estimators are used to deal with errors in variables and unobserved heterogeneity. The results conform to the theoretical predictions. We find evidence that tobacco consumers are forward-looking, but timeinconsistent. The values of the derived present bias and long run discount parameters are statistically significant and in line with the literature.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 666.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:666
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  1. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Koszegi, 2000. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hanming Fang & Dan Silverman, 2004. "Time-inconsistency and Welfare Program Participation: Evidence from the NLSY," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1465, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Ciccarelli, Carlo & Giamboni, Luigi & Waldmann, Robert, 2007. "Cigarette smoking, pregnancy, forward looking behavior and dynamic inconsistency," MPRA Paper 8878, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Badi H. Baltagi, 2007. "On The Use Of Panel Data Methods To Estimate Rational Addiction Models," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(1), pages 1-18, 02.
  6. Frank J. Chaloupka, 1990. "Rational Addictive Behavior and Cigarette Smoking," NBER Working Papers 3268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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