Time-Preference: A Shallow Concept

Economists put a lot of stock in the concept of time-preference. Certainly, time-preference has a lot to do with the setting of interest rates. But, as any respectable economist should admit, there no “interest rate” but a plethora of them, including many, many of them that aren’t captured by market activity.

In any event, time-preference is evanescent. It can even reverse itself over time. The time-preference for death is low, or even negative, when one is young. But it can be infinitely positive when one is suffering — at any age. In general, however, it is safe to say that it rises with age, perhaps sharply toward the end of one’s life.