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Procrastination on Long-Term Projects

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  • O'Donoghue, Ted
  • Rabin, Matthew

Abstract

Previous papers on time-inconsistent procrastination assume projects are completed once begun. We develop a model in which a person chooses whether and when to complete each stage of a long-term project. In addition to procrastination in starting a project, a naive person might undertake costly effort to begin a project but then never complete it. When the costs of completing different stages are more unequal, procrastination is more likely, and it is when later stages are more costly that people start but don't finish projects. Moreover, if the structure of costs over the course of a project is endogenous, people are prone to choose cost structures that lead them to start but not finish projects. We also consider several extensions of the model that further illustrate how people may incur costs on projects they never complete.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt1bz181nv.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt1bz181nv

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Keywords: Hyperbolic Discounting; Naivete; Partial Naivete; Present-Biased Preferences; Self Control; Sophistication; Time Inconsistency; economics;

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References

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  1. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence And Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915, August.
  2. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
  3. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Choice and Procrastination," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5r26k54p, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
  5. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1999. "Incentives For Procrastinators," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 769-816, August.
  6. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
  7. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  8. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
  9. R. Benabou & J. Tirole, 1999. "Self-Confidence: Intrapersonal Strategies," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 00s1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  10. Fischer, Carolyn, 1999. "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Papers dp-99-20, Resources For the Future.
  11. Ainslie, George, 1991. "Derivation of "Rational" Economic Behavior from Hyperbolic Discount Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 334-40, May.
  12. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  13. Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard H, 1989. "Intertemporal Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 181-93, Fall.
  14. Carrillo, Juan D & Mariotti, Thomas, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 529-44, July.
  15. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
  16. 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.
  17. Drazen Prelec, 2004. "Decreasing Impatience: A Criterion for Non-stationary Time Preference and "Hyperbolic" Discounting," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 511-532, October.
  18. Laibson, David, 1998. "Life-cycle consumption and hyperbolic discount functions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 861-871, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2008. "Performance of Procrastinators: On the Value of Deadlines," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse3_2008, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Zafer Akin, 2010. "Intertemporal Decision Making with Present Biased Preferences," Working Papers 1001, TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.

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