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Some Insights on Procrastination: A Curse or a Productive Art?


  • Becchetti, Leonardo
  • Solferino, Nazaria
  • Tessitore, Maria Elisabetta


The choice between performing a task today or procrastinating it until tomorrow or later is the building block of any economic action. In our paper, we aim to enrich the theoretical literature on procrastination by allowing for the possibility of good procrastination together with bad procrastination, and by documenting how procrastination may arise from incomplete information and hyperbolic discounting without further departures from standard preference assumptions. More specifically, we look at the special cases of pathological procrastination, the curse of perfectionism and productive procrastination. We further discuss how our theoretical framework may be applied to different types of (education, investment and production) microeconomic decisions and outline how optimal policy measures change when we consider the possibility of good as well as bad procrastination.

Suggested Citation

  • Becchetti, Leonardo & Solferino, Nazaria & Tessitore, Maria Elisabetta, 2015. "Some Insights on Procrastination: A Curse or a Productive Art?," Review of Behavioral Economics, now publishers, vol. 2(4), pages 331-351, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:now:jnlrbe:105.00000033

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    2. Hanming Fang & Dan Silverman, 2009. "Time-Inconsistency And Welfare Program Participation: Evidence From The Nlsy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1043-1077, November.
    3. Drazen Prelec, 2004. "Decreasing Impatience: A Criterion for Non-stationary Time Preference and "Hyperbolic" Discounting," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 511-532, October.
    4. Stefano DellaVigna & M. Daniele Paserman, 2005. "Job Search and Impatience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 527-588, July.
    5. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
    6. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
    7. Hoch, Stephen J & Loewenstein, George F, 1991. " Time-Inconsistent Preferences and Consumer Self-Control," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 492-507, March.
    8. D.Dragone, 2005. "Incoerenza Dinamica ed Autocontrollo: Proposta per un'Analisi Interdisciplinare," Working Papers 549, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
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    More about this item


    Time-inconsistent preferences; Optimal effort; Procrastination; Intertemporal choice;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making


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