Hyperbolic Discounting of Public Goods
W. Kip Viscusi
Vanderbilt University - Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics
Joel C. Huber
Duke University - Fuqua School of Business
Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 543
This article examines revealed rates of time preference for public goods, using environmental quality as the case study. A nationally representative panel-based sample of 2,914 respondents considered a series of 5 conjoint policy choices, yielding 14,570 decisions. Both the conditional fixed effect logit estimates of the random utility model and mixed logit estimates implied that the rate of time preference is very high for immediate improvements and drops off substantially thereafter, which is inconsistent with exponential discounting but consistent with hyperbolic discounting. The implied marginal rate of time preference declines and then rises. Estimates of the quasi-hyperbolic discounting parameter range from 0.48 to 0.61. People who are older are especially likely to have a high disutility from delays in improving water quality.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43
Keywords: hyperbolic discounting, intertemporal choice, time preference, environment
JEL Classification: Q20, D90, H40
Date posted: July 31, 2006
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