Title Discounting, Time preference, and Identity
 Collaborators Shane Frederick (CMU)
 Keywords Intertemporal Choice, Discounting, Time Preference
 Abstract Most models of intertemporal choice characterize the discount rate as a time preference (as the weighting of the utility of different moments. However, most justifications for discounting (such as opportunity cost and uncertainty) are not, in fact, time preferences but merely expressions of a preference for more utility to less in a context in which timing affects amount of utility. When time preference is properly isolated from these
confounding considerations, conclusions about its normative legitimacy rest on one's philosophical position regarding the stability of identity. If one accepts the idea of diminishing identity within lives across time, it may be rational to discount future utility on the grounds that it is not, fully, one's own. It can be argued that the social discount rate should not reflect
this form of time preference, even if it is individually rational.