There is a growing amount of literature suggesting people tend to behave inconsistently over time, which is driven by decreasing impatience. In addition, many studies have found relations between discounting estimates from experiments and field behavior, such as smoking cessation and dieting. However, these studies often did not separate time inconsistency from other factors such as utility curvature or the level of discounting. In order to establish the relation between field behavior and the degree of time inconsistency, it is therefore necessary to obtain a pure measure of the latter that is not distorted by these other factors. The present study implements a recently introduced measure of deviations from constant impatience, called the “Decreasing Impatience (DI)-index”, to estimate the degree to which people deviate from constant impatience. We provide the first extension of DI to health outcomes, both for individual and societal discounting using three different starting points. Moreover, we include a survey gathering information about several health-related behaviors, in order to test for the relationship between the amount of decreasing impatience and healthy behavior. We observe that decreasing impatience is the modal preference, although constant and increasing impatience are no exceptions, and, hence, these types of discounters should not be neglected. Furthermore, the DI-index is higher for individual health outcomes than for societal health outcomes, but is not distributed differently among the three classes of discounters. The DI-index decreases with starting period for individual health outcomes, but not for societal health outcomes. Very few significant relations between time inconsistency and self-reported health-related behavior were found.

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Journal Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics
Attema, A.E, & Lipman, S.A. (2018). Decreasing impatience for health outcomes and its relation with healthy behavior. Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, 4, 1–8. doi:10.3389/fams.2018.00016