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Fungibility, Labels, and Consumption

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  • Abeler, Johannes

    ()
    (University of Oxford)

  • Marklein, Felix

    ()
    (Federal Ministry of Finance)

Abstract

Fungibility of money is a central principle in economics. It implies that any unit of money is substitutable for another and that the composition of income is irrelevant for consumption. We find in a field experiment that even in a simple, incentivized setup many subjects do not treat money as fungible. When a label is attached to a part of their budget, subjects change consumption according to the suggestion of the label. A controlled laboratory experiment confirms this result and further shows that subjects with lower mathematical abilities are more likely to violate fungibility. The findings lend support to behavioral models such as narrow bracketing or mental accounting. One implication of our results is that in-kind benefits distort consumption more than usually assumed.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3500.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3500

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Keywords: fungibility; In-kind benefits; mental accounting; inframarginal consumers; field experiment; laboratory experiment;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2010. "Are risk aversion and impatience related to cognitive ability?," Munich Reprints in Economics 20063, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Kooreman, Peter & Melenberg, Bertrand & Prast, Henriëtte M. & Vellekoop, Nathanaël, 2013. "Framing Effects in an Employee Savings Scheme: A Non-Parametric Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 7154, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Justine Hastings & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2012. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice: Evidence from Commodity Price Shocks," NBER Working Papers 18248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Timo Hener, 2013. "Labeling Effects of Child Benefits on Family Savings," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 163, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  5. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2011. "Goals and Psychological Accounting," IZA Discussion Papers 5802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Abeler, Johannes & Becker, Anke & Falk, Armin, 2014. "Representative evidence on lying costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 96-104.
  7. Kim, S, 1977. "Instability Of Primary Exports, Income Stabilisation Policies And Welf Are," Working Papers 11, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  8. Yann Girard & Florian Hett, 2013. "Competitiveness in dynamic group contests: Evidence from combined field and lab data," Working Papers 1303, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 01 Apr 2013.
  9. Altmann, Steffen & Traxler, Christian, 2012. "Nudges at the Dentist," IZA Discussion Papers 6699, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Lange, Ian & Moro, Mirko & Rahman, Mohammad, 2014. "Policy Labels and Investment Decision-making," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2014-01, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.

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