Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study
NBER Working Paper No. 539 (Also Reprint No. r0279)
This paper reports the results of an exploratory survey designed to measure differences in time preference across individuals and to test for relationships between time preference and schooling, health behaviors, and health status. Approximately 500 adults age 25-64 were surveyed by telephone. Time preference was measured by a series of six questions asking the respondent to choose between a sum of money now and a larger sum at a specific point in the future. Approximately two-thirds gave consistent replies to the six questions. The implicit interest rate revealed in their replies is weakly correlated with years of schooling (negative), cigarette smoking (positive), and health status(negative). Family background, especially religion, appears to be an important determinant of time preference.