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Procrastination on Long-Term Projects

  • O'Donoghue, Ted

    (Cornell U)

  • Rabin, Matthew

    (U of California, Berkeley)

Previous papers on time-inconsistent procrastination assume projects are completed once begun. We develop a model in which a person chooses whether and when to complete each stage of a long-term project. In addition to procrastination in starting a project, a naive person might undertake costly effort to begin a project but then never complete it. When the costs of completing different stages are more unequal, procrastination is more likely, and it is when later stages are more costly that people start but don't …nish projects. Moreover, if the structure of costs over the course of a project is endogenous, people are prone to choose cost structures that lead them to start but not finish projects. We also consider several extensions of the model that further illustrate how people may incur costs on projects they never complete.

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Paper provided by Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics in its series Working Papers with number 02-09.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:02-09
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  1. Benabou, R. & Tirole, J., 2000. "Self-Confidence: Intrapersonal Strategies," Papers 209, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  2. Juan D. Carrillo & Thomas Mariotti, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 529-544.
  3. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Choice and Procrastination," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5r26k54p, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
  5. Ainslie, George, 1991. "Derivation of "Rational" Economic Behavior from Hyperbolic Discount Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 334-40, May.
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  7. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1999. "Incentives for Procrastinators," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 769-816.
  8. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  9. 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.
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  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Fischer, Carolyn, 1999. "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Papers dp-99-20, Resources For the Future.
  16. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  17. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
  18. E. S. Phelps & R. A. Pollak, 1968. "On Second-Best National Saving and Game-Equilibrium Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 185-199.
  19. Laibson, David, 1998. "Life-cycle consumption and hyperbolic discount functions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 861-871, May.
  20. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
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