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Poverty and Economic Decision-Making: Evidence from Changes in Financial Resources at Payday

Author

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  • Leandro S. Carvalho
  • Stephan Meier
  • Stephanie W. Wang

Abstract

We study the effect of financial resources on decision-making. Low-income US households are randomly assigned to receive an online survey before or after payday. The survey collects measures of cognitive function and administers risk and intertemporal choice tasks. The study design generates variation in cash, checking and savings balances, and expenditures. Before-payday participants behave as if they are more present-biased when making intertemporal choices about monetary rewards but not when making intertemporal choices about nonmonetary real-effort tasks. Nor do we find before-after differences in risk-taking, the quality of decision-making, the performance in cognitive function tasks, or in heuristic judgments. (JEL C83, D14, D81, D91, I32)

Suggested Citation

  • Leandro S. Carvalho & Stephan Meier & Stephanie W. Wang, 2016. "Poverty and Economic Decision-Making: Evidence from Changes in Financial Resources at Payday," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(2), pages 260-284, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:2:p:260-84
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20140481
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2010. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1238-1260, June.
    2. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Matthew Weinberg, 2009. "Heterogeneity in Intra-monthly Consumption Patterns, Self-Control, and Savings at Retirement," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 163-189, August.
    3. Leandro Siqueira Carvalho, 2010. "Poverty and Time Preference," Working Papers 759, RAND Corporation.
    4. Mark Dean & Anja Sautmann, 2014. "Credit Constraints and the Measurement of Time Preferences," Working Papers 2014-1, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    5. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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