Learning Temporal Preferences

33 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2002

See all articles by Eugenio J. Miravete

Eugenio J. Miravete

University of Texas at Austin; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

London School of Economics; Ikerbasque Foundation UPV/EHU

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2002


We analyse households' responses to an unanticipated change in consumption opportunities and evaluate their implications for the nature and formation of preferences. We study the tariff experiment conducted by South Central Bell where local telephone measured tariffs were introduced for the first time in Louisville, KY. Households were given the choice to remain in a flat rate scheme or switch to the new measured tariff scheme. The results of the analysis support models where consumers react to a change in the environment in the direction predicted by theories of rational investment in information. Households learn rapidly to undertake optimal decisions, and react to potential savings of seemingly small magnitude, typically about $5.00 per month. We find no support for models where consumers' responses are determined by inertia or impulsiveness, including systematic tendencies to undervalue future wants common to models of hyperbolic discounting. From a methodological viewpoint, the analysis shows how the appropriate treatment of predetermined endogenous variables and state dependence turns out to be crucial for interpreting the data.

Keywords: Learning, rationality, dynamic discrete choice panel data analysis, dynamic consistency

JEL Classification: C23, C25, D83, D90

Suggested Citation

Miravete, Eugenio J. and Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio, Learning Temporal Preferences (October 2002). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=353786

Eugenio J. Miravete (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

Department of Economics
1 University Station C3100
Austin, TX 78712-0301
United States
512-232-1718 (Phone)
512-471-3510 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/facstaff/Miravete

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

London School of Economics ( email )

Dept. of Management
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Ikerbasque Foundation UPV/EHU ( email )

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