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Commitment Vs. Flexibility

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  • Manuel Amador
  • Ivan Werning
  • George-Marios Angeletos

Abstract

This paper studies the optimal trade-off between commitment and flexibility in an intertemporal consumption/savings choice model. Individuals expect to receive relevant information regarding their own situation and tastes - generating a value for flexibility - but also expect to suffer from temptations - generating a value for commitment. The model combines the representations of preferences for flexibility introduced by Kreps (1979) with its recent antithesis for commitment proposed by Gul and Pesendorfer (2002), which nests the hyperbolic discounting model. We set up and solve a mechanism design problem that optimizes over the set of consumption/saving options available to the individual each period. We characterize the conditions under which the solution takes a simple threshold form where minimum savings policies are optimal. Our analysis is also relevant for other issues such as situations with externalities or the problem faced by a 'paternalistic' planner, which may be important for thinking about some regulations such as forced minimum schooling laws.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10151.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
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Publication status: published as Manuel Amador & Iván Werning & George-Marios Angeletos, 2006. "Commitment vs. Flexibility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 365-396, 03.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10151

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  1. Cole, Harold L & Kocherlakota, Narayana R, 2001. "Efficient Allocations with Hidden Income and Hidden Storage," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 523-42, July.
  2. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  3. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "The social discount rate," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 137, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Atkeson, Andrew & Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1992. "On Efficient Distribution with Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 427-53, July.
  5. Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Douglas H. Joines, 2003. "Time-Inconsistent Preferences And Social Security," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 745-784, May.
  6. Sheshinski, Eytan, 2000. "Bounded Rationality and Socially Optimal Limits on Choice in A Self-Selection Model," MPRA Paper 56141, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Nov 2002.
  7. Per Krusell & Burhanettin Kuruşçu & Anthony A. Smith Jr., 2010. "Temptation and Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 2063-2084, November.
  8. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
  9. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2004. "Self-Control and the Theory of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 119-158, 01.
  10. Laibson, David, 1998. "Life-cycle consumption and hyperbolic discount functions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 861-871, May.
  11. Eddie Dekel, 1997. "A Unique Subjective State Space for Unforeseen Contingencies," Discussion Papers 1202, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  12. Eytan Sheshinski, 2003. "Bounded Rationality and Socially Optimal Limits on Choice in a Self-Selection Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 868, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2004. "Self Control, Revealed Preferences and Consumption Choice," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(2), pages 243-264, April.
  14. Weitzman, Martin L, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 477-91, October.
  15. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  16. Kocherlakota, Narayana R., 1996. "Reconsideration-Proofness: A Refinement for Infinite Horizon Time Inconsistency," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 33-54, July.
  17. Diamond, P. A., 1977. "A framework for social security analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 275-298, December.
  18. Martin Feldstein, 1982. "The Optimal Level of Social Security Benefits," NBER Working Papers 0970, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Susan Athey & Andrew Atkeson & Patrick J. Kehoe, 2001. "On the optimality of transparent monetary policy," Working Papers 613, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  20. Diamond, Peter & Koszegi, Botond, 2003. "Quasi-hyperbolic discounting and retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1839-1872, September.
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