Measuring Time Preferences in Large Surveys

46 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2019 Last revised: 6 Sep 2019

See all articles by Michael M. Bechtel

Michael M. Bechtel

Washington University in St. Louis

Amalie Sofie Jensen

University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics, Students

Kenneth Scheve

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: July 3, 2019

Abstract

Time preferences may explain public opinion about a wide range of long-term policy problems whose costs and benefits will be realized in the distant future. However, mass publics may discount these costs and benefits because they are later or because they are more uncertain. Standard methods to elicit individual-level time preferences tend to conflate attitudes toward risk and time and are susceptible to social desirability bias. A potential solution relies on a costly lab-experimental method, convex time budgets (CTB). We present and experimentally validate an affordable version of this approach for implementation in mass surveys. We find that the theoretically preferred CTB patience measure predicts attitudes toward a local, delayed investment problem but fails to predict support for more complex, future-oriented policies. These results have implications for studying the mass politics of dynamic policy problems.

Keywords: Mass Surveys, Time Preferences, Discounting, Patience, Public Opinion, Long-term Policy, Climate Action, Convex Time Budgets, Experiments, Representative Samples

Suggested Citation

Bechtel, Michael M. and Jensen, Amalie Sofie and Scheve, Kenneth F., Measuring Time Preferences in Large Surveys (July 3, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3422697 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3422697

Michael M. Bechtel (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

Campus Box 1063
One Brookings Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Amalie Sofie Jensen

University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

KĂžbenhavn
Denmark

Kenneth F. Scheve

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208301
New Haven, CT 06520-8301
United States

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