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Risk, Delay, and Convex Self-Control Costs

  • Drew Fudenberg
  • David K. Levine

We develop a dual-self model of self-control that is compatible with modern dynamic macroeconomic theory and evidence. We show that a convex cost of self-control explains a wide range of behavioral anomalies concerning risk, including the Allais paradox, and also explains the observed interaction between risk and delay. We calibrate the model to obtain a quantitative fit. We find that most of the data can be explained with subjective interest rates in the range of 1-7 percent, short-run relative risk aversion of about two, and a time horizon of one day for the short-run self. (JEL D11, D44, D81)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/mic.3.3.34
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 34-68

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:3:y:2011:i:3:p:34-68
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.3.3.34
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-microEmail:


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  1. Isabelle Brocas & Juan D. Carrillo, 2005. "The Brain as a Hierarchical Organization," Levine's Bibliography 172782000000000073, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0012001, EconWPA.
  3. Drew Fudenberg & David K Levine, 2005. "A Dual Self Model of Impulse Control," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000876, David K. Levine.
  4. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  5. Battalio, Raymond C & Kagel, John H & Jiranyakul, Komain, 1990. " Testing between Alternative Models of Choice under Uncertainty: Some Initial Results," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 25-50, March.
  6. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  7. Isabelle Brocas & Juan D. Carrillo, 2005. "The Brain as a Hierarchical Organization," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000205, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2013. "Who Is ‘Behavioral’? Cognitive Ability And Anomalous Preferences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(6), pages 1231-1255, December.
  9. Larry Samuelson & Andrew Postlewaite, 2004. "Consumption Commitments and Preferences for Risk," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 162, Econometric Society.
  10. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D, 2005. "The Brain as a Hierarchical Organization," CEPR Discussion Papers 5168, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Adrian Bruhin & Helga Fehr-Duda & Thomas Epper, 2010. "Risk and Rationality: Uncovering Heterogeneity in Probability Distortion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1375-1412, 07.
  12. Shiv, Baba & Fedorikhin, Alexander, 1999. " Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 278-92, December.
  13. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2006. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
  15. Loewenstein, George & O'Donoghue, Ted, 2004. "Animal Spirits: Affective and Deliberative Processes in Economic Behavior," Working Papers 04-14, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  16. Benhabib, Jess & Bisin, Alberto, 2005. "Modeling internal commitment mechanisms and self-control: A neuroeconomics approach to consumption-saving decisions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 460-492, August.
  17. Manel Baucells & Franz Heukamp, 2010. "Common ratio using delay," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 68(1), pages 149-158, February.
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