The Evolutionary Basis of Time Preference: Intergenerational Transfers and Sex

Arthur J Robson, Balazs Szentes, Emil Iantchev
2012 American Economic Journal: Microeconomics  
We consider the evolutionary basis of intertemporal choice and time discounting, in particular, when there are intergenerational transfers. We show that the notion of "reproductive value" from biology provides the utility criterion for a parent to optimize the allocation of resources between transfers to offspring and for promoting her own survival to the next period. This optimization has a natural dynamic programming formulation. We show that younger individuals may well be "too impatient"
more » ... older individuals "too patient," in a sense that agrees with observations. We compare the allocation of resources under sexual reproduction to that where there is asexual reproduction. Sex distorts time discounting, but there is no general bias towards greater impatience; under plausible conditions, sex may well imply greater patience.
doi:10.1257/mic.4.4.172 fatcat:nksr6pqzobcazk2yivtgucdbge