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#HEJC for 06/05/2013

This month’s meeting will take place Monday 6th May, at 5pm London time. That’ll be 11am in New Orleans and 7pm in Athens. Join the Facebook event here. We’ll also hold an antipodal meeting 12 hours later on Tuesday 7th May, at 5am London time. That’ll be midday in Kuala Lumpur and 1pm in Tokyo. Join the Facebook event here. For more information about the Health Economics Twitter Journal Club and how to take part, click here.

The paper for discussion this month is a working paper published in the Munich Personal RePEc Archive. The authors are Lydia Lawless, Rodolfo Nayga and Andreas DrichoutisThe title of the paper is:

“Time preference and health behaviour: A review”

Following the meeting, a transcript of the discussion can be downloaded here.

Links to the article



Other: tbc

Summary of the paper

Time preferences affect individuals’ consumption decisions. Our understanding of time preferences can inform public policy, particularly in the area of health behaviours. Furthermore, in economic evaluation in health care, assumptions about time preferences play a crucial role in determining the cost-effectiveness of an intervention. The authors carry out a literature review; focussing on papers published post-2002 so as to avoid repeating previous reviews. In this review the authors sought to:

  1. examine the influence of time preferences on health behaviours
  2. explain how the societal time discount rate differs from the private time discount rate
  3. determine how time discount rates affect the decisions of governments in the developing world
  4. assess how time discount rates affect individuals’ decision making in regard to risky behaviours such as smoking, diet and sexual behaviour
  5. discuss the repercussions of time preferences for the prevention of poor health.

The authors identified 3 main strategies that are used to capture time preferences; observed behaviour, experimental settings and the use of time preference proxies. The authors conclude that context plays a key role in determining the nature of time preferences; developing countries may exhibit different trends to developed countries. Furthermore, time preferences from a societal perspective do no necessarily match those of the individual.

Discussion points

  • Do the authors succeed in reviewing all relevant literature?
  • Is the authors’ review strategy sufficient?
  • Does the study successfully address the 5 aims set out in the introduction?
  • How might this study inform future research?

Missed the meeting? Add your thoughts on the paper in the comments below.


  • Chris Sampson

    Founder of the Academic Health Economists' Blog. Senior Principal Economist at the Office of Health Economics. ORCID: 0000-0001-9470-2369

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