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Read this paper later: procrastination with time-consistent preferences

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  • Fischer, Carolyn

Abstract

A model of time-consistent procrastination is developed to assess the extent to which the observed behavior is compatible with rational behavior. When a finite work requirement must be completed by a deadline, the remaining time for leisure is an exhaustible resource. With a positive rate of time preference, the optimal allocation of this resource results in more hours spent working (and fewer in leisure) the closer the deadline. Key qualitative findings of psychological studies of academic procrastination are consistent with the standard natural resource management principles implied by the model, when suitably adapted to task aversiveness, uncertainty, and multiple deadlines. However, quantitatively, the fully rational model requires an extremely high rate of time preference or elasticity of intertemporal substitution to generate serious procrastination; furthermore, it cannot explain undesired procrastination. A companion paper, "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences" analyzes the extent to which alternative time discounting preferences can better explain such impatience and address the issue of self-control failures.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:46:y:2001:i:3:p:249-269
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
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    7. Fischer, Carolyn, 1999. "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Papers dp-99-20, Resources For the Future.
    8. Hartwick, John M. & Kemp, Murray C. & Van Long, Ngo, 1986. "Set-up costs and theory of exhaustible resources," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 212-224, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Saez-Marti, Maria & Sjögren, Anna, 2008. "Deadlines and distractions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 143(1), pages 153-176, November.
    2. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2011. "Performance of procrastinators: on the value of deadlines," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 329-366, March.
    3. Caplan, Arthur J. & Gilbert, John, 2004. "The Folly Of Dillydally," Economics Research Institute, ERI Series 28341, Utah State University, Economics Department.
    4. Weinschenk, Philipp, 2012. "Increasing workload in a stochastic environment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 286-288.
    5. Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen W. Salant & Dan Silverman, 2012. "Willpower And The Optimal Control Of Visceral Urges," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 342-368, April.
    6. Philipp Weinschenk, 2010. "Increasing Workload in a Stochastic Environment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_43, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    7. Burger, Nicholas & Charness, Gary & Lynham, John, 2011. "Field and online experiments on self-control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 393-404, March.
    8. Fischer, Carolyn, 1999. "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Papers dp-99-20, Resources For the Future.
    9. Stracca, Livio, 2004. "Behavioral finance and asset prices: Where do we stand?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 373-405, June.
    10. Michael D. Frakes & Melissa F. Wasserman, 2016. "Procrastination in the Workplace: Evidence from the U.S. Patent Office," NBER Working Papers 22987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen Salant & Dan Silverman, 2006. "Willpower and Optimal Control of Visceral Urges," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001355, David K. Levine.
    12. Angela C.M. de Oliveira & Sarah Jacobson, 2017. "(Im)patience by Proxy: Making Intertemporal Decisions for Others," Department of Economics Working Papers 2017-01, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jun 2018.
    13. Livio Stracca, 2002. "Behavioural Finance and Aggregate Market Behaviour: Where do we Stand?," Discussion Papers in Economics 02/10, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance

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