The estimation of marginal time preference in a UK-wide sample (TEMPUS) project: a review

Cairns J A, van der Pol M M
Record ID 31999009033
Authors' objectives:

The aims of this study are: 1. To derive implied discount rates for future health benefits for a sample of the general public in the UK. 2. To establish whether individual inter-temporal preferences with respect to their own health differ from those with respect to the health of others. 3. To investigate the effect of different ways of asking questions on apparent inter-temporal preferences (specifically closed-ended and open-ended methods are compared). 4. To establish whether individuals value future health benefits in line with the traditional discounted utility model and to investigate, in addition, how well the hyperbolic discounting models explain individual responses.

Authors' recomendations: The results of this study suggest that the implied discount rates for own and others' health are broadly similar. There are some differences but the similarities are much more striking, certainly in the case of the open-ended method. The implied discount rates and the distribution of the implied discount were very similar for the open-ended method and the discrete choice experiment. The discrete choice experiment had a higher response rate and respondents considered that the discrete choices questions were easier to answer. The results provide evidence against the discounted utility model. The key axiom of the discounted utility model, stationarity, was violated. The alternative, the hyperbolic discounting models, fitted the data better than the discounted utility model. The implied discount rates elicited in this study should not be over-emphasised because of the unrepresentativeness of the study sample. However, it is notable how close the estimated median rates are to the rates advocated for use in economic evaluation in a range of countries (for example, 3% in the USA, 5% in Australia and Canada). The estimated implied discount rates in this study fall comfortably within the range of estimates from previous empirical studies.
Authors' methods: Primary research
Project Status: Completed
URL for project:
Year Published: 2000
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: England, United Kingdom
MeSH Terms
  • Attitude to Health
  • Time Factors
Organisation Name: NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme
Contact Address: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK
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Copyright: 2009 Queen's Printer and Controller of HMSO
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.