We, as individuals and as a society, are ageing. How does that affect our economic decisions?

The demographic trend across the world is that societies are becoming older: an increasingly large share of the population is in advanced age and, consequently, the average citizen is older.

This trend already has visible effects in "old" societies, such as Japan, but also affects "young" societies, such as Australia. It will continue to shape our societies in the future, and determine how we function as a society and as an economy.

While much research investigates the direct financial impact of ageing societies on public services, such as the need for new infrastructures, health services and retirement schemes, this research project asks a different question: what happens if our representative decision maker changes? How may any changes affect markets and institutions? For example, how does ageing change how people invest and use retirement money, how does it affect if individuals share with others? And factors are the drivers of change? Is it age, health, living circumstances, or simply a different perspective on the world that develops in the course of a lifetime?

The current research project investigates these topics, focussing on preferences of older adults over time.

More detail on the time preferences study

The project studies the preferences of older adults over time and money and uses incentivized surveys. These surveys include questions about money. After the survey, participants receive real money, based on their answers in the survey. For anyone interested, please contact the Lead Researcher, Jonas Fooken, at econpreferences@uq.edu.au for any questions or to participate.

Here are also some frequently asked questions and answers about the study.

What is the research about?

Jonas is a health economist who studies how people make decisions over money. He is particularly interested in knowing about the preferences of older adults. The current research project studies preferences over money and time: choosing between a smaller amount now and a somewhat larger amount later. Jonas wants to understand how different aspects of ageing are related to choices. Your answers will help us to understand this a bit better.

What do you mean by “economic preferences”?

Economic preferences tell us how people want to spend their money – for example, if they want to take financial risks, if they want to use their money for immediate consumption or save it to be used later, and if they want to share with family, friends or even strangers. The current research project studies preferences over money and time: choosing between a smaller amount now and a somewhat larger amount later. Jonas wants to understand how different aspects of ageing are related to choices. Your answers will help us to understand this a bit better.

What will I do as a participant?

Participants will be given a paper questionnaire with four parts to complete. The first two parts will ask for a little background information such as your age, gender and general health. The main part of the questionnaire will ask you to make choices between receiving differing sums of money, either now or in the future. The final part of the questionnaire will contain a short psychological test to measure your thinking and decision making. This is not to diagnose or rate your cognition, merely to help us understand your answers better.

Will my answers be identifiable?

No.

We are not interested in individual answers, just the patterns of the group. We anonymize the data as soon as possible to make sure your answers are kept confidential, secure and separately from your identifying information. We will use your identifying information only to contact you for payments that we make to you in the future.

How long does it take to participate?

Completing the questionnaire will take about 30 to 40 minutes. After you have finished we may need another 10 minutes to get your contact details and organise payments, and to answer any questions you may have after completing the survey.

How do you pay participants? Is everyone paid?

All participants will be paid, but how much you are paid and when will come down to the decisions you made and to luck! After you have finished filling out the questionnaire we will ask you to roll a dice to decide which of the payment choices you will receive. Some payments will be paid straight away and some will happen at a later date, depending on how you chose.

Where does this money come from?

Jonas has received funding from the University of Queensland to conduct his research.

What if I feel uncomfortable with any part of the study?

No problems! You are able to stop participating at any time. We hope the questionnaire will not be too demanding, but if you feel uncomfortable or have questions, our researchers will be around to help you out.

Who are the researchers?

The Lead Researcher is Dr Jonas Fooken, a research fellow in health economics at the Centre for the Business and Economics of Health (CBEH), at the University of Queensland. Jonas will usually also be accompanied by a research assistant who will help him do the practical part of the study and learn about how to do research.

Project members

Contact and investigator

Dr Jonas Fooken

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Centre for the Business and Economics of Health