Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences
AbstractSalience costs, along with imperfect foresight, have been used in previous studies to explain procrastination of a one-time task. A companion to this paper, "Read This Paper Later: Procrastination with Time-Consistent Preferences" analyzes the extent to which procrastination of a divisible task is compatible with rational behavior. While the fully rational model explains key qualitative observations, it requires an extremely high rate of time preference or elasticity of intertemporal substitution to generate serious procrastination and cannot explain undesired procrastination at all. This paper investigates the extent to which dynamically inconsistent preferences can better explain such impatience and address the issue of self-control failures. Two types of discount functions are presented, motivated by previous salience cost explanations. Hyperbolic discounting corresponds to a salient present; short-term discount rates are higher than long-term ones. A new form, differential discounting, arises from salient costs; utility from leisure is discounted at a higher rate than rewards from work. The model of a divisible task with delayed rewards generates clear predictions that can be used to distinguish between types. When workers have rational expectations about future behavior, both regimes induce self-control problems and sharper procrastination than standard exponential discounting. However, they have different implications for policies to induce work, reduce procrastination, and improve welfare.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-99-20.
Date of creation: 01 Jan 1999
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-01-24 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Schelling, Thomas C, 1978. "Egonomics, or the Art of Self-Management," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 290-94, May.
- Schelling, Thomas C, 1984. "Self-Command in Practice, in Policy, and in a Theory of Rational Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 1-11, May.
- 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.
- O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997.
"Doing It Now or Later,"
Department of Economics, Working Paper Series
qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Loewenstein, George & Prelec, Drazen, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-97, May.
- 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.
- Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-84, September.
- Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
- Fischer, Carolyn, 1999.
"Read This Paper Later: Procrastination with Time-Consistent Preferences,"
dp-99-19, Resources For the Future.
- Fischer, Carolyn, 2001. "Read this paper later: procrastination with time-consistent preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 249-269, November.
- Laitner, John P., 1980. "Intergenerational preference differences and optimal national saving," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 56-66, February.
- David I. Laibson, 1996. "Hyperbolic Discount Functions, Undersaving, and Savings Policy," NBER Working Papers 5635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Martin Luckert & Wiktor Adamowicz, 1993. "Empirical measures of factors affecting social rates of discount," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 1-21, February.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Webmaster).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.