February 2021

IZA DP No. 14091: Eliciting Time Preferences When Income and Consumption Vary: Theory, Validation & Application to Job Search

We propose a simple method for eliciting individual time preferences without estimating utility functions even in settings where background consumption changes over time. It relies on lottery tickets with high rewards. In a standard intertemporal choice model high rewards decouple lottery choices from variation in background consumption. We validate our elicitation method experimentally on two student samples: one asked in December when their current budget is reduced by extraordinary expenditures for Christmas gifts; the other asked in February when no such extra constraints exist. We illustrate an application of our method with unemployed job seekers which naturally have income/consumption variation.