Catastrophes and Time Preference: Evidence from the Indian Ocean Earthquake


Callen, Michael. 2015. “Catastrophes and Time Preference: Evidence from the Indian Ocean Earthquake.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 118 (October 2015): 199–214.

Date Published:

Oct 2015


We provide evidence suggesting that exposure to the Indian Ocean Earthquake tsunami increased patience in a sample of Sri Lankan wage workers. We develop a framework to characterize the various channels through which disaster exposure could affect measures of patience. Drawing on this framework, we show that a battery of empirical tests support the argument that the increase in measured patience reects a change in time preference and not selective exposure to the event, migration related to the tsunami, or other changes in the economic environment which affect experimental patience measures. The results have implications for policies aimed at disaster recovery and for the literature linking life events to economic preferences.



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Last updated on 11/01/2016