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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 qt5zb60651.

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Date of creation: 23 Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt5zb60651

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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. Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard H, 1989. "Intertemporal Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 181-93, Fall.
  2. Ted O' Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Choice and Procrastination," Microeconomics 0012002, EconWPA.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1997. "Incentives for Procrastinators," Discussion Papers 1181, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. 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.
  9. Benabou, R. & Tirole, J., 2000. "Self-Confidence: Intrapersonal Strategies," Papers 209, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Laibson, David, 1998. "Life-cycle consumption and hyperbolic discount functions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 861-871, May.
  13. 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.
  14. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence And Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915, August.
  15. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
  16. Fischer, Carolyn, 1999. "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Papers dp-99-20, Resources For the Future.
  17. 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.
  18. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
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Cited by:
  1. Akin, Zafer, 2012. "Intertemporal decision making with present biased preferences," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 30-47.
  2. 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.
  3. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2008. "Performance of Procrastinators: On the Value of Deadlines," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse3_2008, University of Bonn, Germany.

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