Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Paying Not to Go to the Gym

Contents:

Author Info

  • Stefano DellaVigna
  • Ulrike Malmendier

Abstract

How do consumers choose from a menu of contracts? We analyze a novel dataset from three U.S. health clubs with information on both the contractual choice and the day-to-day attendance decisions of 7,752 members over three years. The observed consumer behavior is difficult to reconcile with standard preferences and beliefs. First, members who choose a contract with a flat monthly fee of over $70 attend on average 4.3 times per month. They pay a price per expected visit of more than $17, even though they could pay $10 per visit using a 10-visit pass. On average, these users forgo savings of $600 during their membership. Second, consumers who choose a monthly contract are 17 percent more likely to stay enrolled beyond one year than users committing for a year. This is surprising because monthly members pay higher fees for the option to cancel each month. We also document cancellation delays and attendance expectations, among other findings. Leading explanations for our findings are overconfidence about future self-control or about future efficiency. Overconfident agents overestimate attendance as well as the cancellation probability of automatically renewed contracts. Our results suggest that making inferences from observed contract choice under the rational expectation hypothesis can lead to biases in the estimation of consumer preferences. (JEL D00, D12, D91)

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.96.3.694
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/june06_data_20020916.zip
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 96 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 694-719

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:3:p:694-719

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.3.694
Contact details of provider:
Email:
Web page: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Web: http://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html

Related research

Keywords:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Miravete, Eugenio J & Röller, Lars-Hendrik, 2003. "Competitive Non-Linear Pricing in Duopoly Equilibrium: The Early US Cellular Telephone Industry," CEPR Discussion Papers 4069, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Heidhues, Paul & Köszegi, Botond, 2005. "The Impact of Consumer Loss Aversion on Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 4849, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Loewenstein, George & O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5qh6142m, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Stefano Della Vigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2004. "Contract Design and Self-control: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 353-402, May.
  6. Igal Hendel & Aviv Nevo, 2004. "Intertemporal Substitution and Storable Products," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 536-547, 04/05.
  7. Gabriel D. Carroll & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2005. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," NBER Working Papers 11074, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Paserman, Daniele, 2004. "Job Search and Hyperbolic Discounting: Structural Estimation and Policy Evaluation," IZA Discussion Papers 997, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Drazen Prelec & George Loewenstein, 1998. "The Red and the Black: Mental Accounting of Savings and Debt," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(1), pages 4-28.
  10. Malmendier, Ulrike M. & Della Vigna, Stefano, 2002. "Overestimating Self-Control: Evidence from the Health Club Industry," Research Papers 1880, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  11. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540, May.
  12. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
  14. Cutler, David & Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Choice And Procrastination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 121-160, February.
  16. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  17. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  18. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
  19. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2004. "Contracting with Diversely Naive Agents," CEPR Discussion Papers 4573, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2003. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance and Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 297-310, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:3:p:694-719. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.