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Measuring Self-Control Problems

Author

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

Abstract

We develop a survey instrument to measure self-control problems in a sample of highly educated adults. This measure relates in the manner that theory predicts to liquid wealth accumulation and personality measures. Yet while self-control problems are typically seen as resulting in overconsumption and low wealth, we identify a significant group who underconsume and thereby accumulate high levels of wealth. In addition, self-control problems are smaller in scale for older than for younger respondents. Those who put money aside in retirement accounts may be delaying access to a point at which self-control problems are no longer important. (JEL D12, D14)

Suggested Citation

  • John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy & Tom Tyler, 2007. "Measuring Self-Control Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 966-972, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:3:p:966-972
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.3.966
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David K. Levine & Drew Fudenberg, 2006. "A Dual-Self Model of Impulse Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1449-1476, December.
    2. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2003. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1007-1047.
    3. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy & Tom Tyler, 2004. "Measuring Self-Control," NBER Working Papers 10514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    5. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance

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