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Optimal Irrational Behavior

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Contrary to the usual presumption that welfare is maximized if consumers behave rationally, we show in a two-period overlapping generations model that there always exists a rule of thumb that can weakly improve upon the lifecycle/permanent-income rule in general equilibrium with irrational households. The market-clearing mechanism introduces a pecuniary externality that individual rational households do not consider when making decisions, but a publically shared rule of thumb can exploit this effect. For typical calibrations, the improvement of the welfare of irrational households is robust to the introduction of rational agents. Generalizing to a more realistic lifecycle model, we find in particular that the Save More Tomorrow Plan can confer higher lifetime utility than the permanent-income rule in general equilibrium.

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File URL: http://www.deakin.edu.au/buslaw/aef/workingpapers/papers/2009_1.pdf
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Paper provided by Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance in its series Economics Series with number 2009_01.

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Length: 39
Date of creation: 10 Feb 2009
Handle: RePEc:dkn:econwp:eco_2009_01
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  1. Findley, T. Scott & Caliendo, Frank N., 2010. "Does it pay to be SMarT?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(03), pages 321-344, July.
  2. repec:pit:wpaper:368 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Philippe Weil, 2008. "Overlapping generations: the first jubilee," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/13430, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. Feigenbaum, James & Caliendo, Frank N., 2010. "Optimal irrational behavior in continuous time," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1907-1922, October.
  5. Todd W. Allen & Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "Individual Learning About Consumption," NBER Working Papers 8234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kevin X.D. Huang & Frank Caliendo, 2007. "Rationalizing Seven Consumption-Saving Puzzles in a Unified Framework," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0716, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  7. Larry Blume & David Easley, 2001. "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? Belief Selection in Complete and Incomplete Markets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1319, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  8. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
  9. Jonathan S. Skinner, 1987. "Risky Income, Life Cycle Consumption, and Precautionary Savings," NBER Working Papers 2336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Chris Shannon, 2003. "What to Maximize if You Must," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000044, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Feigenbaum, James, 2008. "Information shocks and precautionary saving," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 3917-3938, December.
  12. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Naive Diversification Strategies in Defined Contribution Saving Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 79-98, March.
  13. Ayşe İmrohoroğlu & Selahattin İmrohoroğlu & Douglas H. Joines, 2003. "Time-Inconsistent Preferences and Social Security," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 745-784.
  14. John Geanakoplos, 2008. "Overlapping Generations Models of General Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002225, David K. Levine.
  15. 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.
  16. John Geanakoplos, 2008. "Overlapping Generations Models of General Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1663, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  17. Bullard, James & Feigenbaum, James, 2007. "A leisurely reading of the life-cycle consumption data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2305-2320, November.
  18. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2003. "Macroeconomic Priorities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 1-14, March.
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