January 27, 2018

Time Preferences and Consumer Behavior

Vol 55 (2-3) 119-145
David Bradford
Charles Courtemanche
Garth Heutel
Patrick McAlvanah

We investigate the predictive power of survey-elicited time preferences. The discount factor elicited from choice experiments using real payments predicts various health, energy, and financial outcomes, including overall self-reported health, smoking, installing energy-efficient lighting, and credit card balance. Allowing for time-inconsistent preferences, both the long-run and present-bias discount factors (δ and β) are also significantly associated in the expected direction with several outcomes. We consider several hypotheses regarding the strength of the association between discount factors and outcomes, such as salience of the outcome or liquidity constraints.