IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/inm/ormnsc/v66y2020i2p503-529.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

When Commitment Fails: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Anett John

    (Center for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST), Palaiseau 91120, France)

Abstract

Commitment products can remedy self-control problems. However, imperfect knowledge about their preferences may (discontinuously) lead individuals to select into incentive-incompatible commitments, which reduce their welfare. I conducted a field experiment in which low-income individuals were randomly offered a new installment-savings commitment account. Individuals chose a personalized savings plan and a default penalty themselves. A majority appears to choose a harmful contract: While the average effect on bank savings is large, 55% of clients default and incur monetary losses. A possible explanation is that the chosen penalties were too low (the commitment was too weak) to overcome clients’ self-control problems. Measures of sophisticated hyperbolic discounting correlate negatively with take-up and default, and positively with penalty choices. This finding is consistent with theoretical predictions that partial sophisticates adopt weak commitments and then default, whereas full sophisticates are more cautious about committing, but better able to choose incentive-compatible contracts.

Suggested Citation

  • Anett John, 2020. "When Commitment Fails: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(2), pages 503-529, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:66:y:2020:i:2:p:503-529
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2018.3236
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2018.3236
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1287/mnsc.2018.3236?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
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2011. "Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2350-2390, October.
    2. John A. List & Azeem M. Shaikh & Yang Xu, 2019. "Multiple hypothesis testing in experimental economics," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(4), pages 773-793, December.
    3. J. Behrman & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), 1995. "Handbook of Development Economics," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 4.
    4. Kfir Eliaz & Ran Spiegler, 2006. "Contracting with Diversely Naive Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 689-714.
    5. Heather Royer & Mark Stehr & Justin Sydnor, 2015. "Incentives, Commitments, and Habit Formation in Exercise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Workers at a Fortune-500 Company," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-84, July.
    6. 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.
    7. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 164-187, February.
    8. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    9. 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.
    10. Anett John, 2017. "Can Fixed Regular Deposits Overcome Savings Constraints?," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 68(5), pages 909-924.
    11. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2004. "Contract Design and Self-Control: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 353-402.
    12. David S. Ahn & Ryota Iijima & Yves Le Yaouanq & Todd Sarver, 2017. "Behavioral Characterizations of Naivet� for Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2074, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    13. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    14. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
    15. Paul Heidhues & Botond Koszegi, 2010. "Exploiting Naivete about Self-Control in the Credit Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2279-2303, December.
    16. Lasse Brune & Xavier Giné & Jessica Goldberg & Dean Yang, 2016. "Facilitating Savings for Agriculture: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(2), pages 187-220.
    17. James Andreoni & Charles Sprenger, 2012. "Estimating Time Preferences from Convex Budgets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3333-3356, December.
    18. Ned Augenblick & Muriel Niederle & Charles Sprenger, 2015. "Editor's Choice Working over Time: Dynamic Inconsistency in Real Effort Tasks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(3), pages 1067-1115.
    19. Toussaert, Séverine, 2018. "Eliciting temptation and self-control through menu choices: a lab experiment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 88107, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    20. Gugerty, Mary Kay, 2007. "You Can't Save Alone: Commitment in Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 251-282, January.
    21. Xavier Giné & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2010. "Put Your Money Where Your Butt Is: A Commitment Contract for Smoking Cessation," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 213-235, October.
    22. Siwan Anderson & Jean-Marie Baland, 2002. "The Economics of Roscas and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 963-995.
    23. Uzma Afzal & Giovanna d’Adda & Marcel Fafchamps & Simon Quinn & Farah Said, 2018. "Two Sides of the Same Rupee? Comparing Demand for Microcredit and Microsaving in a Framed Field Experiment in Rural Pakistan," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(614), pages 2161-2190, September.
    24. Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilova & Jonathan Morduch, 2012. "Behavioral Foundations of Microcredit: Experimental and Survey Evidence from Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 1118-1139, April.
    25. Mary Kay Gugerty, 2007. "You Can't Save Alone: Commitment in Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 251-282.
    26. Supreet Kaur & Michael Kremer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2015. "Self-Control at Work," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(6), pages 1227-1277.
    27. J. Behrman & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), 1995. "Handbook of Development Economics," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    28. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Why Don't the Poor Save More? Evidence from Health Savings Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1138-1171, June.
    29. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Savings, credit and insurance," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 36, pages 2123-2207, Elsevier.
    30. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
    31. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2011. "Forgetting We Forget: Overconfidence And Memory," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 43-60, February.
    32. Siwan Anderson & Jean-Marie Baland, 2002. "The Economics of Roscas and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 963-995.
    33. Paul Heidhues & Botond Kőszegi, 2009. "Futile Attempts at Self-Control," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 423-434, 04-05.
    34. S. Nageeb Ali, 2011. "Learning Self-Control," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 857-893.
    35. Nicholas Burger & John Lynham, 2010. "Betting on weight loss … and losing: personal gambles as commitment mechanisms," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(12), pages 1161-1166.
    36. Frank Schilbach, 2019. "Alcohol and Self-Control: A Field Experiment in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(4), pages 1290-1322, April.
    37. Basu, Karna, 2014. "Commitment savings in informal banking markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 97-111.
    38. Ned Augenblick & Matthew Rabin, 2019. "An Experiment on Time Preference and Misprediction in Unpleasant Tasks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(3), pages 941-975.
    39. Damon Jones & Aprajit Mahajan, 2015. "Time-Inconsistency and Saving: Experimental Evidence from Low-Income Tax Filers," NBER Working Papers 21272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    40. Séverine Toussaert, 2018. "Eliciting Temptation and Self†Control Through Menu Choices: A Lab Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(3), pages 859-889, May.
    41. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    42. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
    43. Zacharias Maniadis & Fabio Tufano & John A. List, 2014. "One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer: New Evidence on Anchoring Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(1), pages 277-290, January.
    44. Mark Dean & Anja Sautmann, 2014. "Credit Constraints and the Measurement of Time Preferences," Working Papers 2014-1, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Taisuke Imai & Tom A Rutter & Colin F Camerer, 2021. "Meta-Analysis of Present-Bias Estimation using Convex Time Budgets," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 131(636), pages 1788-1814.
    2. Sulka, Tomasz, 2022. "Planning and saving for retirement," DICE Discussion Papers 384, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    3. Kaufmann, Marc, 2022. "Projection bias in effort choices," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 368-393.
    4. Andrej Woerner & Giorgia Romagnoli & Birgit M. Probst & Nina Bartmann & Jonathan N. Cloughesy & Jan Willem Lindemans, 2021. "Should Individuals Choose Their Own Incentives? Evidence from a Mindfulness Meditation Intervention," CESifo Working Paper Series 9494, CESifo.
    5. Derksen, Laura & Kerwin, Jason Theodore & Reynoso, Natalia Ordaz & Sterck, Olivier, 2021. "Appointments: A More Effective Commitment Device for Health Behaviors," SocArXiv y8gh7, Center for Open Science.
    6. Havran, Dániel & Gosztonyi, Márton, 2021. "Karátos likviditásmenedzserek. Az arany ékszerek szerepe a háztartások likviditáskezelésében [Liquidity managers with carats. The role of gold jewellery in the liquidity management of households]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(11), pages 1141-1161.
    7. Mariana Carrera & Heather Royer & Mark Stehr & Justin Sydnor & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2019. "Who Chooses Commitment? Evidence and Welfare Implications," NBER Working Papers 26161, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Kast, Felipe & Meier, Stephan & Pomeranz, Dina, 2018. "Saving more in groups: Field experimental evidence from Chile," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 275-294.
    9. Zhang, Qing & Greiner, Ben, 2021. "Time inconsistency, sophistication, and commitment: An experimental study," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 206(C).
    10. Cassidy, Rachel & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2020. "Banker my neighbour: Matching and financial intermediation in savings groups," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    11. Shilpa Aggarwal & Valentina Brailovskaya & Jonathan Robinson, 2020. "Saving for Multiple Financial Needs: Evidence from Lockboxes and Mobile Money in Malawi," NBER Working Papers 27035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Antonia Grohmann & Tabea Lakemann & Helke Seitz, 2020. "Savings Goal Calendars as Soft Commitment Devices: Evidence from Small Business Owners in Uganda," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1919, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    13. Andrej Woerner, 2021. "Overcoming Time Inconsistency with a Matched Bet: Theory and Evidence from Exercising," CESifo Working Paper Series 9503, CESifo.

    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. Anett John (née Hofmann), 2014. "When Commitment Fails - Evidence from a Regular Saver Product in the Philippines," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 055, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    2. Bisin, Alberto & Hyndman, Kyle, 2020. "Present-bias, procrastination and deadlines in a field experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 339-357.
    3. Anett John (née Hofmann), 2014. "When Commitment Fails - Evidence from a Regular Saver Product in the Philippines," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 55, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    4. Ubfal, Diego, 2016. "How general are time preferences? Eliciting good-specific discount rates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 150-170.
    5. Cassidy, Rachel & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2020. "Banker my neighbour: Matching and financial intermediation in savings groups," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    6. Basu, Karna, 2014. "Commitment savings in informal banking markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 97-111.
    7. Karlan, Dean & Morduch, Jonathan, 2010. "Access to Finance," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Dani Rodrik & Mark Rosenzweig (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 4703-4784, Elsevier.
    8. Andrej Woerner, 2021. "Overcoming Time Inconsistency with a Matched Bet: Theory and Evidence from Exercising," CESifo Working Paper Series 9503, CESifo.
    9. Sebastian Vollmer & Juditha Wójcik, 2017. "The long-term consequences of the global 1918 influenza pandemic: A systematic analysis of 117 IPUMS international census data sets," Working Papers 1721, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
    10. Houser, Daniel & Schunk, Daniel & Winter, Joachim & Xiao, Erte, 2018. "Temptation and commitment in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 329-344.
    11. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Harris, Christopher & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C. & Sakong, Jung, 2020. "Which early withdrawal penalty attracts the most deposits to a commitment savings account?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    12. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 163-192, January.
    13. Mariana Carrera & Heather Royer & Mark Stehr & Justin Sydnor & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2019. "Who Chooses Commitment? Evidence and Welfare Implications," NBER Working Papers 26161, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Toussaert, Séverine, 2018. "Eliciting temptation and self-control through menu choices: a lab experiment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 88107, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
    16. Gharad Bryan & Dean Karlan & Scott Nelson, 2009. "Commitment Contracts," Working Papers 980, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    17. Ashraf, Nava & Karlan, Dean & Yin, Wesley, 2010. "Female Empowerment: Impact of a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 333-344, March.
    18. Karna Basu, 2011. "Hyperbolic Discounting and the Sustainability of Rotational Savings Arrangements," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 143-171, November.
    19. Ferraz, Eduardo & Mantilla, César, 2022. "A trade-off from the future: How risk aversion may explain the demand for illiquid assets," Working papers 97, Red Investigadores de Economía.
    20. Le Yaouanq, Yves & Schwardmann, Peter, 2019. "Learning about one's self," CEPR Discussion Papers 13510, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    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:inm:ormnsc:v:66:y:2020:i:2:p:503-529. 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://edirc.repec.org/data/inforea.html .

    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: Matthew Walls (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/inforea.html .

    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.