January 2021

IZA DP No. 14025: Collective Intertemporal Decisions and Heterogeneity in Groups

Many important intertemporal decisions are made by groups rather than individuals. What happens to collective decisions when there is internal conflict about the tradeoff between present and future has not been thoroughly investigated so far. We study experimentally the causal effect of group members' heterogeneous payoffs from waiting on intertemporal choices. We find that three-person groups behave more patiently than individuals. This effect stems from the presence of at least one group member with a high payoff from waiting. We analyze additional treatments, group chat content, and survey data to uncover the mechanism through which heterogeneity in groups increases patience.