NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Hung-Ken Chien

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Working Papers

July 2008The Evolutionary Theory of Time Preferences and Intergenerational Transfers
with C.Y. Cyrus Chu, Ronald D. Lee: w14185
At each age an organism produces energy by foraging and allocates this energy among reproduction, survival, growth, and intergenerational transfers. We characterize the optimal set of allocation decisions that maximizes reproductive fitness. Time preference (the discount rate) is derived from the marginal rate of substitution between energy obtained at two different times or ages in an individual's life, holding reproductive fitness constant. We show that the life history may have an initial immature phase during which there is body growth but no fertility, and a later mature phase with fertility but no growth, as with humans. During the immature phase, time preference depends only on the compounding effect of body growth, much like returns on a capital investment, but not on fertility, or...

Published: Cyrus Chu, C.Y. & Chien, Hung-Ken & Lee, Ronald D., 2010. "The evolutionary theory of time preferences and intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 451-464, December. citation courtesy of

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