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Income Smoothing and Self-Control: The Case of Schoolteachers

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  • Thomas Mayer
  • Thomas Russell

Abstract

Approximately one-half of California's Unified School Districts give teachers a choice of receiving their annual salaries in 10 or 12 monthly payments. Intertemporal utility maximization à la Irving Fisher suggests that they should choose 10 payments and earn interest on their savings. But about 50% of the teachers choose 12 installments, even though when summed over a reasonable period the forgone interest can be considerable. This behavior can be explained by the cost of exercising self-control and by Laibson's model of hyperbolic discounting. A survey of teachers supports this interpretation. (JEL D91, D12) Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Mayer & Thomas Russell, 2005. "Income Smoothing and Self-Control: The Case of Schoolteachers," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(4), pages 823-830, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:43:y:2005:i:4:p:823-830
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/ei/cbi060
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
    2. Schelling, Thomas C, 1984. "Self-Command in Practice, in Policy, and in a Theory of Rational Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 1-11, May.
    3. George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
    4. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    5. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

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