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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. Diamond, Peter & Koszegi, Botond, 2003. "Quasi-hyperbolic discounting and retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1839-1872, September.
  2. 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.
  3. Per Krusell & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., 2000. "Temptation and Taxation," GSIA Working Papers 2001-12, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  4. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2004. "Self-Control and the Theory of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 119-158, 01.
  5. Susan Athey & Andrew Atkeson & Patrick J. Kehoe, 2001. "On the optimality of transparent monetary policy," Working Papers 613, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  8. Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Douglas H. Joines, 2000. "Time inconsistent preferences and Social Security," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 136, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  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. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Feldstein, Martin S, 1985. "The Optimal Level of Social Security Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 303-20, May.
  15. Harold L Cole & Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Efficient Allocations with Hidden Income and Hidden Storage," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1909, David K. Levine.
  16. Diamond, P. A., 1977. "A framework for social security analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 275-298, December.
  17. W. Pesendorfer & F. Gul, 1999. "Temptation and Self-Control," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 99f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  18. Dekel, Eddie & Lipman, Barton L & Rustichini, Aldo, 2001. "Representing Preferences with a Unique Subjective State Space," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 891-934, July.
  19. Laibson, David, 1998. "Life-cycle consumption and hyperbolic discount functions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 861-871, May.
  20. 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.
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