NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Patrick McAlvanah

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Working Papers

July 2014Time Preferences and Consumer Behavior
with David Bradford, Charles Courtemanche, Garth Heutel, Christopher Ruhm: w20320
We investigate the predictive power of survey-elicited time preferences using a representative sample of US residents. In regressions controlling for demographics and risk preferences, we show that the discount factor elicited from choice experiments using multiple price lists and real payments predicts various health, energy, and financial outcomes, including overall self-reported health, smoking, drinking, car fuel efficiency, and credit card balance. We allow for time-inconsistent preferences and find that the long-run and present bias discount factors (δ and β) are each significantly associated in the expected direction with several of these outcomes. Finally, we explore alternate measures of time preference. Elicited discount factors are correlated with several such measures, incl...
October 2011Impatience, Incentives, and Obesity
with Charles J. Courtemanche, Garth Heutel: w17483
This paper explores the relationship between time preferences, economic incentives, and body mass index (BMI). Using data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we first show that greater impatience increases BMI even after controlling for demographic, human capital, and occupational characteristics as well as income and risk preference. Next, we provide evidence of an interaction effect between time preference and food prices, with cheaper food leading to the largest weight gains among those exhibiting the most impatience. The interaction of changing economic incentives with heterogeneous discounting may help explain why increases in BMI have been concentrated amongst the right tail of the distribution, where the health consequences are especially severe. Lastl...

"Impatience, Incentives, and Obesity." (with Charles Courtemanche and Patrick McAlvanah), forthcoming, The Economic Journal.

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