The Value of Waiting Time in the United States: Estimates from Nationwide Natural Field Experiments (with A. Goldszmidt, J. A. List, I. Muir, V. K. Smith, J. Wang)

  • Date: Nov 17, 2021
  • Time: 06:00 PM
  • Speaker: Robert Metcalfe, University of Southern California
  • Location: Zoom meeting, please contact Zita Green for Zoom link:

Values of time contribute to the determination of individuals’ relative shadow prices of goods
and services, investments, productivity, economic growth, and measurements of income inequality.
By leveraging key features of the classic time allocation theories together with preference restrictions
commonly used in nonmarket valuation, we estimate the value of waiting time (VOT) via
two large-scale natural field experiments run by the ridesharing company Lyft. We use random
variation in wait times and prices to estimate consumers’ VOT in a data set of nearly 15 million
observations across 13 large U.S. metropolitan areas. We find that the VOT is approximately $19
per hour (or 67% (90%) of the pre-tax mean (median) wage rate in 2015 dollars), varies predictably
with choice circumstances, and is increasing in the amount of waiting time.

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