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Is there a Daily Discount Rate? Evidence from the Food Stamp Nutrition Cycle

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  • Jesse M. Shapiro

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

A central prediction of the quasi-hyperbolic model of time preference is that consumers will be impatient over short-run tradeoffs. I present the first nonlaboratory test of this implication using data on the nutritional intake of food stamp recipients. Caloric intake declines by 10 to 15 percent over the 30-day period following receipt of food stamps, implying a significant preference for immediate consumption. Resulting estimates of the daily discount rate are inconsistent with any reasonable calibration of an exponential discounting model. The data support an explanation based on time preference and reject several alternative explanations, including high elasticities of intertemporal substitution, strategic interactions and food depreciation.

Suggested Citation

  • Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Is there a Daily Discount Rate? Evidence from the Food Stamp Nutrition Cycle," Microeconomics 0304005, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 04 Sep 2003.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0304005
    Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 40 ; figures: included
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    food stamps; nutrition; hyperbolic discounting; quasi- hyperbolic discounting;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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