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Income Smoothing and Self-Control: The Case of Schoolteachers

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  • Thomas Mayer
  • Thomas Russell

Abstract

Approximately one-half of California's Unified School Districts give teachers a choice of receiving their annual salaries in 10 or 12 monthly payments. Intertemporal utility maximization à la Irving Fisher suggests that they should choose 10 payments and earn interest on their savings. But about 50% of the teachers choose 12 installments, even though when summed over a reasonable period the forgone interest can be considerable. This behavior can be explained by the cost of exercising self-control and by Laibson's model of hyperbolic discounting. A survey of teachers supports this interpretation. (JEL D91, D12) Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 43 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 823-830

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:43:y:2005:i:4:p:823-830

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  1. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
  2. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  3. 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.
  4. Schelling, Thomas C, 1984. "Self-Command in Practice, in Policy, and in a Theory of Rational Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 1-11, May.
  5. Camerer, Colin F. & Hogarth, Robin M., 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Working Papers 1059, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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