Comparing time and risk preferences across three post-industrial UK cities

Marjon van der Pol, David Walsh, Gerry McCartney

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Time and risk preferences are known to vary considerably across individuals but less is known about the determinants of these individual differences. This paper examines whether preferences vary by geographical location. The motivation for examining geographic heterogeneity is the higher level of mortality experienced in Glasgow over and above that explained by deprivation, sometimes referred to as the ‘Glasgow effect’. Data were collected from 3,702 individuals across Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool between July and November 2011. The results show evidence of geographic preference heterogeneity. Contrary to our hypothesis, individuals in Glasgow have a lower rather than higher time preference rate. Individuals in Glasgow are on average more risk seeking compared to Liverpool and more likely to be at the tail end of the distribution (very risk seeking) compared to Manchester. Differences in risk preferences may help explain some of the differences in mortality associated with risky health behaviours such as drug and alcohol use. However, individuals in Glasgow were also more future oriented suggesting that they are less likely to engage in risky healthy behaviours. As the differences in time and risk preferences work in opposite directions in terms of health investments it less likely that these differences can help explain excess mortality in Glasgow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Early online date13 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015

Bibliographical note

Date of Acceptance: 10/07/2015

The Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates funds HERU. The survey was jointly funded by NHS Health Scotland and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors only and not those of the funding bodies. The investigator team for the overall survey comprises David Walsh, Gerry McCartney, Sarah McCullough, Marjon van der Pol, Duncan Buchanan and Russell Jones.


  • time and risk preferences
  • geographical heterogenity
  • health
  • excess mortality
  • Glasgow


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