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Why Don't Present-Biased Agents Make Commitments?

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  • Laibson, David I.

Abstract

Present-biased preferences engender a demand for commitment. Commitment is a problematic prediction, since we see so little of it. I quantitatively explore the reasons for the "missing" commitment. Extending the procrastination model in Carroll et al. (2009), I show how equilibrium commitment is related to (i) the standard deviation of the opportunity cost of time, (ii) the cost of delay, (iii) the degree of partial naivete, and (iv) the direct cost of commitment. The calibrated model demonstrates that the perceived benefits of commitment are often overwhelmed by the costs of commitment. Demand for commitment is a special case rather than the general case.

Suggested Citation

  • Laibson, David I., 2015. "Why Don't Present-Biased Agents Make Commitments?," Scholarly Articles 22583328, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:22583328
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Nava Ashraf, 2009. "Spousal Control and Intra-household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1245-1277, September.
    3. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Choice and Procrastination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 121-160.
    4. Jeremy Tobacman & David Laibson, 2007. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," Economics Series Working Papers 341, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Gabriel D. Carroll & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2009. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1639-1674.
    6. 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.
    7. repec:aea:aecrev:v:109:y:2019:i:4:p:1290-1322 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2005. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000643, UCLA Department of Economics.
    9. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
    10. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:tpr:amjhec:v:4:y:2018:i:1:p:1-25 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Eisenbach, Thomas M. & Schmalz, Martin C., 2016. "Anxiety in the face of risk," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 414-426.
    3. Pleshcheva, Vlada & Klapper, Daniel & Dannewald, Till, 2019. "On Factors of Consumer Heterogeneity in (Mis)Valuation of Future Energy Costs: Evidence for the German Automobile Market," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 140, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    4. repec:eee:jeborg:v:158:y:2019:i:c:p:90-109 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Helen G. Levy & Edward C. Norton & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2018. "Tobacco Regulation and Cost-Benefit Analysis: How Should We Value Foregone Consumer Surplus?," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-25, Winter.
    6. repec:eee:joepsy:v:61:y:2017:i:c:p:39-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Le Yaouanq, Yves & Schwardmann, Peter, 2019. "Learning about one's self," CEPR Discussion Papers 13510, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. repec:kap:jbioec:v:21:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s10818-019-09284-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:ecolet:v:161:y:2017:i:c:p:102-104 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Lukas, Moritz & Nöth, Markus, 2016. "Commitment and Borrower Heterogeneity: Evidence from Revolving Consumer Credit," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145870, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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