IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bpj/bejtec/vadvances.5y2005i1n5.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Denial of Death and Economic Behavior

Author

Listed:
  • Kopczuk Wojciech

    (Columbia University)

  • Slemrod Joel

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

We model denial of death and its effect on economic behavior. Attempts to reduce death anxiety and the possibility of denial of mortality-relevant information interact with intertemporal choices and may lead to time-inconsistent behavior and other "behavioral" phenomena. In the model, repression of signals of mortality leads to underconsumption for unsophisticated individuals, but forward-sophisticated individuals may over-consume in anticipation of future denial and may seek ways to commit to act according to one's mortality prospects as currently perceived. We show that the mere possibility of engaging in this kind of denial leads to time-inconsistent but efficient behavior. Refusal to face up to the reality of death may help explain a wide range of empirical phenomena, including the underutilization of tax-advanced inter vivos gifts and inadequate purchase of life insurance.

Suggested Citation

  • Kopczuk Wojciech & Slemrod Joel, 2005. "Denial of Death and Economic Behavior," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-26, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejtec:v:advances.5:y:2005:i:1:n:5
    DOI: 10.2202/1534-5963.1207
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.2202/1534-5963.1207
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.2202/1534-5963.1207?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sendhil Mullainathan & Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "Behavioral Economics," NBER Working Papers 7948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2005. "Optimal Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1092-1118, September.
    3. Juan D. Carrillo & Thomas Mariotti, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 529-544.
    4. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79.
    5. Poterba, James, 2001. "Estate and gift taxes and incentives for inter vivos giving in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 237-264, January.
    6. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    7. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    8. V. Kerry Smith & Donald H. Taylor & Frank A. Sloan, 2001. "Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1126-1134, September.
    9. B. Douglas Bernheim & Lorenzo Forni & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2003. "The Mismatch Between Life Insurance Holdings and Financial Vulnerabilities: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 354-365, March.
    10. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
    11. B. Douglas Bernheim & Lorenzo Forni & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2001. "The mismatch between life insurance holdings and financial vulnerabilities: evidence from the Health and Retirement Survey," Working Papers (Old Series) 0109, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    12. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    13. Koszegi, Botond, 2003. "Health anxiety and patient behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 1073-1084, November.
    14. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2001. "Choice, Chance, and Wealth Dispersion at Retirement," NBER Chapters, in: Aging Issues in the United States and Japan, pages 25-64, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2006. "Can anticipatory feelings explain anomalous choices of information sources?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 87-104, July.
    2. Coutts, Alexander, 2019. "Testing models of belief bias: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 549-565.
    3. Ghosal, Sayantan & Dalton, Patricio, 2013. "Characterizing Behavioral Decisions with Choice Data," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 107, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Linda Thunström & Jonas Nordström & Jason F. Shogren & Mariah Ehmke & Klaas Veld, 2016. "Strategic self-ignorance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 117-136, April.
    5. Alaoui, Larbi, 2008. "The value of useless information," MPRA Paper 11411, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746.
    7. Laajaj, Rachid, 2017. "Endogenous time horizon and behavioral poverty trap: Theory and evidence from Mozambique," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 187-208.
    8. Isabelle Brocas & Juan D. Carrillo, 2008. "The Brain as a Hierarchical Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1312-1346, September.
    9. Macera, Rosario, 2014. "Dynamic beliefs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 1-18.
    10. Daniele Pennesi, 2020. "Identity and information acquisition," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 610, Collegio Carlo Alberto, revised 2021.
    11. Anat Bracha & Donald J. Brown, 2007. "Affective Decision Making: A Behavioral Theory of Choice," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1633R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Apr 2009.
    12. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2005. "The Case for Mindless Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 784828000000000581, David K. Levine.
    13. Mr. Bernhard Eckwert & Mr. Burkhard Drees, 2005. "Asset Mispricing Due to Cognitive Dissonance," IMF Working Papers 2005/009, International Monetary Fund.
    14. Hagenbach, Jeanne & Koessler, Frédéric, 2022. "Selective memory of a psychological agent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 142(C).
    15. Schwardmann, Peter, 2019. "Motivated health risk denial and preventative health care investments," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 78-92.
    16. Hagenbach, Jeanne & Koessler, Frédéric, 2022. "Selective memory of a psychological agent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 142(C).
    17. Elyès Jouini & Clotilde Napp, 2018. "The Impact of Health-Related Emotions on Belief Formation and Behavior," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 84(3), pages 405-427, May.
    18. Botond Kőszegi, 2010. "Utility from anticipation and personal equilibrium," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 44(3), pages 415-444, September.
    19. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Filippos Papakonstantinou & Jonathan A. Parker, 2017. "Optimal Time-Inconsistent Beliefs: Misplanning, Procrastination, and Commitment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(5), pages 1318-1340, May.
    20. Francesca Lipari, 2018. "This Is How We Do It: How Social Norms and Social Identity Shape Decision Making under Uncertainty," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-31, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • 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

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:bejtec:v:advances.5:y:2005:i:1:n:5. See general 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: . General contact details of provider: https://www.degruyter.com .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Peter Golla (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.degruyter.com .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.