Toward an Understanding of the Development of Time Preferences: Evidence from Field Experiments

59 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2019

See all articles by James Andreoni

James Andreoni

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Michael Kuhn

University of Oregon - Department of Economics

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Anya Samek

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management; Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR)

Kevin Sokal

University of Chicago

Charles Sprenger

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Date Written: February 2019

Abstract

Time preferences have been correlated with a range of life outcomes, yet little is known about their early development. We conduct a field experiment to elicit time preferences of over 1,200 children ages 3-12, who make several intertemporal decisions. To shed light on how such primitives form, we explore various channels that might affect time preferences, from background characteristics to the causal impact of an early schooling program that we developed and operated. Our results suggest that time preferences evolve substantially during this period, with younger children displaying more impatience than older children. We also find a strong association with race: black children, relative to white or Hispanic children, are more impatient. Finally, assignment to different schooling opportunities is not significantly associated with child time preferences.

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Suggested Citation

Andreoni, James and Kuhn, Michael and List, John A. and Samek, Anya and Sokal, Kevin and Sprenger, Charles, Toward an Understanding of the Development of Time Preferences: Evidence from Field Experiments (February 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25590, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3341250

James Andreoni (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

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La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
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HOME PAGE: http://econ.ucsd.edu/~jandreon/

Michael Kuhn

University of Oregon - Department of Economics ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.uoregon.edu/mkuhn

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Anya Samek

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive #0553
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093-0553
United States

HOME PAGE: http://anyasamek.com

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

Kevin Sokal

University of Chicago

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Charles Sprenger

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

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