Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 37, Issue 2–3, pp 107–114

Asymmetric or symmetric time preference and discounting in many facets of economic theory: A miscellany

  • Paul A. Samuelson


Factual accounts of how different people actually do discount future events and do over-estimate and under estimate the likelihood of future gains and losses are seen to vary with time and place. Lifetime distributions of wealth and income correlate with choices by those who live mostly for the present and against those who think now about differential future outputs. Rates of time discount and degree of optimism (rational vs. irrational) are seen to overlap ambiguously. Each “behaviorist” pattern can be matched by its reversed pattern.


Present-moment bias Stochastic optimizing of expected utility outcomes Associative means for post-1738 Laplacians 

JEL Classification

D90 B21 D80 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. Samuelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute Professor Emeritus, Department of EconomicsMITCambridgeUSA

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