Michael A. Kuhn

Department of Economics
1285 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of Oregon

NBER Working Papers and Publications

February 2019Toward an Understanding of the Development of Time Preferences: Evidence from Field Experiments
with James Andreoni, John A. List, Anya Samek, Kevin Sokal, Charles Sprenger: w25590
Time preferences have been correlated with a range of life outcomes, yet little is known about their early development. We conduct a field experiment to elicit time preferences of over 1,200 children ages 3-12, who make several intertemporal decisions. To shed light on how such primitives form, we explore various channels that might affect time preferences, from background characteristics to the causal impact of an early schooling program that we developed and operated. Our results suggest that time preferences evolve substantially during this period, with younger children displaying more impatience than older children. We also find a strong association with race: black children, relative to white or Hispanic children, are more impatient. Finally, assignment to different schooling opportun...
November 2018Arbitrage Or Narrow Bracketing? On Using Money to Measure Intertemporal Preferences
with James Andreoni, Christina Gravert, Silvia Saccardo, Yang Yang: w25232
If experimental subjects arbitrage against market interest rates when making intertemporal allocations of cash, the data will reveal nothing about subjects' discount rates, only uncovering subjects' market interest rates. If they frame choices narrowly, market rates will not be salient and the experiment will uncover subjects' utility discount rates. We test arbitrage directly by forcing all transactions with subjects to be instant electronic bank transfers, thus making arbitrage easy and salient. We also employ four decision frames to test alternative hypotheses. Our evidence contradicts arbitrage, supports money as a valid reward, and suggests framing as a correlate with present bias.
January 2016Starting Small: Endogenous Stakes and Rational Cooperation
with James Andreoni, Larry Samuelson: w21934
We report experimental results for a twice-played prisoners’ dilemma in which the players can choose the allocation of the stakes across the two periods. Our point of departure is the assumption that some (but not all) people are principled to “do the right thing,” or cooperate, as long as their opponent is sufficiently likely to do so. The presence of such types can be exploited to enhance cooperation by structuring the twice-played prisoners’ dilemma to “start small,” so that the second-stage stakes are larger (but not too much larger) than the first-stage stakes. We compare conditions where the allocation of stakes is chosen exogenously to conditions where it is chosen by the players themselves. We show that players are able to find and choose the payoff maximizing strategy of starting ...

Published: Andreoni J, Kuhn MA, Samuelson L. Building rational cooperation on their own: Learning to start small. J Public Econ Theory. 2018;1–14.

August 2013On Measuring Time Preferences
with James Andreoni, Charles Sprenger: w19392
Eliciting time preferences has become an important component of both laboratory and field experiments, yet there is no consensus as how to best measure discounting. We examine the predictive validity of two recent, simple, easily administered, and individually successful elicitation tools: Convex Time Budgets (CTB) and Double Multiple Price Lists (DMPL). Using similar methods, the CTB and DMPL are compared using within- and out-of-sample predictions. While each perform equally well within sample, the CTB significantly outperforms the DMPL on out-of-sample measures.

Published: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization Volume 116, August 2015, Pages 451–464 Cover image Measuring time preferences: A comparison of experimental methods ☆ James Andreonia, , Michael A. Kuhnb, , Charles Sprengerc, ,

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us