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Read this paper later: procrastination with time-consistent preferences

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  • Fischer, Carolyn

Abstract

A model of time-consistent procrastination is developed to assess the extent to which the observed behavior is compatible with rational behavior. When a finite work requirement must be completed by a deadline, the remaining time for leisure is an exhaustible resource. With a positive rate of time preference, the optimal allocation of this resource results in more hours spent working (and fewer in leisure) the closer the deadline. Key qualitative findings of psychological studies of academic procrastination are consistent with the standard natural resource management principles implied by the model, when suitably adapted to task aversiveness, uncertainty, and multiple deadlines. However, quantitatively, the fully rational model requires an extremely high rate of time preference or elasticity of intertemporal substitution to generate serious procrastination; furthermore, it cannot explain undesired procrastination. A companion paper, "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences" analyzes the extent to which alternative time discounting preferences can better explain such impatience and address the issue of self-control failures.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 46 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (November)
Pages: 249-269

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:46:y:2001:i:3:p:249-269

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  1. Hartwick, John M. & Kemp, Murray C. & Van Long, Ngo, 1986. "Set-up costs and theory of exhaustible resources," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 212-224, September.
  2. Gilbert, Richard J, 1979. "Optimal Depletion of an Uncertain Stock," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 47-57, January.
  3. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
  4. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
  5. William D. Nordhaus, 1973. "The Allocation of Energy Resources," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(3), pages 529-576.
  6. Glenn C. Loury, 1977. "The Optimal Exploitation of an Unknown Reserve," Discussion Papers 255, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Loewenstein, George & Prelec, Drazen, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-97, May.
  8. Pindyck, Robert S, 1980. "Uncertainty and Exhaustible Resource Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(6), pages 1203-25, December.
  9. Weitzman, Martin L., 1976. "The optimal development of resource pools," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 351-364, June.
  10. David I. Laibson, 1996. "Hyperbolic Discount Functions, Undersaving, and Savings Policy," NBER Working Papers 5635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
  12. Fischer, Carolyn, 1999. "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Papers dp-99-20, Resources For the Future.
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Cited by:
  1. Saez-Marti, Maria & Sjögren, Anna, 2004. "Deadlines and Distractions," Working Paper Series 618, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 01 Jul 2004.
  2. Weinschenk, Philipp, 2012. "Increasing workload in a stochastic environment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 286-288.
  3. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2008. "Performance of Procrastinators: On the Value of Deadlines," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse3_2008, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Philipp Weinschenk, 2010. "Increasing Workload in a Stochastic Environment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_43, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  5. Arthur Caplan & John Gilbert, 2004. "The Folly of Dillydally," Working Papers 2004-16, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
  6. Fischer, Carolyn, 1999. "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Papers dp-99-20, Resources For the Future.
  7. Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen W. Salant & Dan Silverman, 2012. "Willpower And The Optimal Control Of Visceral Urges," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 342-368, 04.
  8. Stracca, Livio, 2004. "Behavioral finance and asset prices: Where do we stand?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 373-405, June.
  9. Livio Stracca, 2002. "Behavioural Finance and Aggregate Market Behaviour: Where do we Stand?," Discussion Papers in Economics 02/10, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  10. Burger, Nicholas & Charness, Gary & Lynham, John, 2011. "Field and online experiments on self-control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 393-404, March.
  11. Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen Salant & Dan Silverman, 2006. "Willpower and Optimal Control of Visceral Urges," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001355, David K. Levine.

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