Intertemporal Decisions for Oneself and for a Group and Conservation Decisions: Evidence from a Thai Coastal Village

by Suparee Boonmanunt, Thomas Lauer, Bettina Rockenbach, Arne Weiss

This study investigates the effects of others’ time preferences on the subjects’ decisions for a group. A lab-in-the-field experiment with Thai coastal villagers was conducted to elicit time preferences. First, the participants decide for themselves and results show that on average, their choices show a present bias. The participants then decide for a group that include themselves. Prior to this decision, the participants are informed about the choices that the other members made in the individual setting. Results show that the choices made for the group are significantly less present-biased. The mechanism driving this result is that the information about a more patient member is more influential than the information about a less patient member. This study also examines the relationship between intertemporal decisions and conservation. A mangrove-planting activity was organized to observe the participants’ actual contribution to a conservation activity. The number of mangrove seeds planted and the participants’ membership status in a conservation group were used as proxies for their individual conservation decisions. Results suggest that less present-biased participants contribute more to the planting activity and seem to be more likely to be members of the conservation group, although conservation decisions are unrelated to the villagers’ long-run discounting.

  • Publication Year: 2016
  • Country: Thailand
  • Research Area: Behavioral Economics and Social Capital
  • Research Topic: Cooperative Behavior, Public Good and Trust
  • Analytical Framework: Behavioral/Experimental Economics
Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia