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Measuring Self-Control

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  • John Ameriks
  • Andrew Caplin
  • John Leahy
  • Tom Tyler

Abstract

How significant are individual differences in self-control? Do these differences impact wealth accumulation? From where do they derive? Our survey-based measure of self-control provides insights into all three questions: 1.There are individual differences in self-control not only of a quantitative but also of a qualitative nature. In our sample, standard self-control problems of over-consumption are no more prevalent than are problems of under-consumption. 2.Standard self-control problems do impede wealth accumulation, particularly in liquid form. Problems of under-consumption have the opposite effects. 3.Self-control is linked to conscientiousness' much studied by psychologists. There is a related link with financial planning.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10514.

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Date of creation: May 2004
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Publication status: published as Ameriks, John, Andrew Caplin, John Leahy, and Tom Tyler. "Measuring Self-Control Problems." American Economic Review 97, 3 (June 2007): 966-72.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10514

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  1. Victor R. Fuchs, 1980. "Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study," NBER Working Papers 0539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Benabou, Roland & Pycia, Marek, 2002. "Dynamic inconsistency and self-control: a planner-doer interpretation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 419-424, November.
  3. Paserman, Daniele, 2004. "Job Search and Hyperbolic Discounting: Structural Estimation and Policy Evaluation," IZA Discussion Papers 997, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Hanming Fang & Dan Silverman, 2009. "Time-Inconsistency And Welfare Program Participation: Evidence From The Nlsy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1043-1077, November.
  5. Krusell, Per & Kuruscu, Burhanettin & Smith, Anthony Jr., 2002. "Time orientation and asset prices," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 107-135, January.
  6. John Leahy & Andrew Caplin, 2004. "The Absentminded Consumer," 2004 Meeting Papers 784, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2007. "Retirement Consumption: Insights from a Survey," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 265-274, May.
  8. Christopher D Carroll, 1997. "Why Do the Rich Save So Much?," Economics Working Paper Archive 388, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  9. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. H. M. Shefrin & Richard Thaler, 1977. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," NBER Working Papers 0208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Stefano DellaVigna & M. Daniele Paserman, 2005. "Job Search and Impatience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 527-588, July.
  13. W. Pesendorfer & F. Gul, 1999. "Temptation and Self-Control," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 99f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  14. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1995. "On the Interpretation of Decision Problems with Imperfect Recall," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 324-324, December.
  15. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2002. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," NBER Working Papers 8920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2003. "Wealth Accumulation, Credit Card Borrowing, and Consuption-Income Comovement," Documentos de Trabajo 166, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  17. 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.
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  19. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
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