Hyperbolic Discounting of Public Goods

43 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2006  

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2006

Abstract

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.

Keywords: hyperbolic discounting, intertemporal choice, time preference, environment

JEL Classification: Q20, D90, H40

Suggested Citation

Viscusi, W. Kip and Huber, Joel C., Hyperbolic Discounting of Public Goods (February 2006). Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 543. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=921425 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.921425

W. Kip Viscusi (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7715 (Phone)
615-322-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Joel C. Huber

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7785 (Phone)

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