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Revising Commitments: Field Evidence on the Adjustment of Prior Choices

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  • Xavier Giné
  • Jessica Goldberg
  • Dan Silverman
  • Dean Yang

Abstract

The very poor in developing countries often make intertemporal choices that seem at odds with their individual self-interest. There are many possible reasons why. We investigate several of these reasons with a lab-in-the-field experiment in rural Malawi involving large stakes. We make two contributions. First, we construct a new dependent variable: revisions of prior choices regarding the allocation of future income. This allows us to directly examine intertemporal choice revision and its determinants. In particular, this dependent variable permits a novel test for the existence of self-control problems: we find that revisions of money allocations toward the present are positively associated with measures of present-bias from an earlier baseline survey, as well as the (randomly assigned) closeness in time to the first possible date of money disbursement. Second, we investigate other potential determinants of revision, aside from self-control problems. We find little evidence that revisions of money allocations toward the present are associated with spousal preferences for such revision, household shocks or the financial sophistication of respondents.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18065.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18065

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Cited by:
  1. James Andreoni & Michael A. Kuhn & Charles Sprenger, 2013. "On Measuring Time Preferences," NBER Working Papers 19392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Grant Graziani & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2013. "A boost in the paycheck: survey evidence on workers’ response to the 2011 payroll tax cuts," Staff Reports 592, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.
  4. Elaine M. Liu & Juanjuan Meng & Joseph Tao-yi Wang, 2013. "Confucianism and Preferences: Evidence from Lab Experiments in Taiwan and China," NBER Working Papers 19615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Working Papers 1027, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  6. Mark Dean & Anja Sautmann, 2014. "Credit Constraints and the Measurement of Time Preferences," Working Papers 2014-1, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  7. Yang, Xiaojun & Carlsson, Fredrik, 2012. "Intra-household decisions making on intertemporal choices: An experimental study in rural China," Working Papers in Economics 537, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  8. Jakiela, Pamela & Ozier, Owen, 2012. "Does Africa need a rotten Kin Theorem ? experimental evidence from village economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6085, The World Bank.

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