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Closing the Eyes on a Gloomy Future: Psychological Causes and Economic Consequences

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  • Laajaj, Rachid

Abstract

This paper analyzes the impact of economic prospects on one’s time preference. Research in psychol- ogy has shown how individuals modify their preferences in order to reduce their cognitive dissonance, which is the uncomfortable tension felt when simultaneously holding conflicting thoughts. It occurs among the poor when simultaneously caring about their future welfare while having gloomy economic prospects. Hence closing their eyes on the future can reduce their psychological distress at the cost of worsening their future economic wellbeing. This paper offers a new theoretical approach that decom- poses time discounting and analyzes the endogenous determination of one’s time horizon. The model predicts that, below a certain wealth, the time horizon of an individual is decreasing in poverty, result- ing in a behavioral poverty trap. The prediction is tested using data from a randomized experiment in Mozambique, which confirms that the beneficiaries of an agro-input subsidy and a matched savings intervention increased their planning horizon as a result of their improved economic prospects.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington with number 123933.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:123933

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Related research

Keywords: Endogenous time preference; cognitive dissonance; time horizon; Community/Rural/Urban Development; Consumer/Household Economics; Institutional and Behavioral Economics; D91; O12; Q12;

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  1. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-19, June.
  2. Nava Ashraf & Dean S. Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 917, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  3. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory And Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79, February.
  4. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2007. "The Economic Lives of the Poor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 141-168, Winter.
  5. Abhijit Banerjee & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2010. "The Shape of Temptation: Implications for the Economic Lives of the Poor," Working Papers id:2484, eSocialSciences.
  6. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
  7. Deepa Narayan & Robert Chambers & Meera K. Shah & Patti Petesch, 2000. "Voices of the Poor : Crying Out for Change," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13848, February.
  8. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  9. Jamison, Julian & Wegener, Jon, 2010. "Multiple selves in intertemporal choice," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 832-839, October.
  10. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  11. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 2004. "A Dual Self Model of Impulse Control," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2049, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  12. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2002. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," NBER Working Papers 8920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-84, September.
  14. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  15. Brune, Lasse & Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2011. "Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5748, The World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Macours, Karen, 2012. "Volatility, Risk and Household Poverty: Micro-evidence from Randomized Control Trials," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 128293, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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