A Theory of (Relative) Discounting

Efe A. Ok and Yusufcan Masatlioglu , Journal of Economic Theory 137(1) , 214-245 , November 2007.

We derive a representation theorem for time preferences (on the prize-time space) which identifies a novel notion of relative discounting as the key ingredient. This representation covers a variety of time preference models, including the standard exponential and hyperbolic discounting models and certain non-transitive time preferences, such as the similarity-based and subadditive discounting models. Our axiomatic work thus unifies a number of seemingly disparate time preference structures, thereby providing a tractable mathematical format that allows for investigating certain economic environments without subscribing to a particular time preference model. This point is illustrated by means of an application to sequential bargaining theory.

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