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An Economic Theory of Self-Control

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  • H. M. Shefrin
  • Richard Thaler

Abstract

Although many economists, most notably Strotz, have discussed dynamic inconsistency and precommitment, none have dealt directly with the essence of the problem: self-control. This paper attempts to fill that gap by modeling man as an organization. The Strotz model is recast to include the control features missing in his formulation. The organizational analogy permits us to draw on the theory of agency. We thus relate the individual's control problems with those that exist in agency relationships.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w0208.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0208.

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Date of creation: Oct 1977
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0208

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  1. Peleg, Bezalel & Yaari, Menahem E, 1973. "On the Existence of a Consistent Course of Action when Tastes are Changing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(3), pages 391-401, July.
  2. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  3. Hammond, Peter J, 1976. "Changing Tastes and Coherent Dynamic Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 159-73, February.
  4. Ross, Stephen A, 1973. "The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal's Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 134-39, May.
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