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Time discounting and wealth inequality


Epper, Thomas; Fehr, Ernst; Fehr-Duda, Helga; Thustrup Kreiner, Claus; Dreyer Lassen, David; Leth-Petersen, Søren; Nytoft Rasmussen, Gregers (2018). Time discounting and wealth inequality. Semantic Scholar: https://www.semanticscholar.org/.

Abstract

We use standard experimental methods to elicit how much people discount the future for a large sample of middle-aged individuals in Denmark and link it to information about their real-life wealth over a 15-year period obtained from administrative registers. The results show that individuals with relatively low time discounting are consistently positioned higher in the wealth distribution. The association between time discounting and the position in the wealth distribution is significant and of the same magnitude as the association between length of education and the position in the wealth distribution, and it exists after controlling for education, school grades, income, initial wealth, parental wealth, and credit constraints. Our results are consistent with the prediction of standard life-cycle savings theory that differences in time preferences generate differences in savings behavior and thereby wealth inequality.

Abstract

We use standard experimental methods to elicit how much people discount the future for a large sample of middle-aged individuals in Denmark and link it to information about their real-life wealth over a 15-year period obtained from administrative registers. The results show that individuals with relatively low time discounting are consistently positioned higher in the wealth distribution. The association between time discounting and the position in the wealth distribution is significant and of the same magnitude as the association between length of education and the position in the wealth distribution, and it exists after controlling for education, school grades, income, initial wealth, parental wealth, and credit constraints. Our results are consistent with the prediction of standard life-cycle savings theory that differences in time preferences generate differences in savings behavior and thereby wealth inequality.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Scientific Publication in Electronic Form
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Wealth inequality, discounting behavior, preference heterogeneity, experimental methods, register data
Language:English
Date:9 February 2018
Deposited On:23 Jan 2019 10:40
Last Modified:29 Mar 2019 14:13
Publisher:https://www.semanticscholar.org/
Number of Pages:61
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Time-Discounting-and-Wealth-Inequality-%E2%88%97-Epper-Fehr/58b56bccebd53026de7542ebde5020b2af2cf34e

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