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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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    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.
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    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-25, Winter.
    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. Shilpa Aggarwal & Rebecca Dizon-Ross & Ariel D. Zucker, 2020. "Incentivizing Behavioral Change: The Role of Time Preferences," NBER Working Papers 27079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Liu, Pan & Andersen, Torben M. & Bhattacharya, Joydeep, 2019. "On the Commitment Needs of Partially Naive Agents," ISU General Staff Papers 201911200800001097, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    5. 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.
    6. Sadoff, Sally & Samek, Anya, 2019. "Can interventions affect commitment demand? A field experiment on food choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 90-109.
    7. Zachary Breig & Matthew Gibson & Jeffrey Shrader, 2019. "Why Do We Procrastinate? Present Bias and Optimism," Department of Economics Working Papers 2019-15, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    8. Yves Le Yaouanq & Peter Schwardmann, 2019. "Learning about One's Self," CESifo Working Paper Series 7455, CESifo.
    9. Roll, Stephen & Grinstein-Weiss, Michal & Gallagher, Emily & Cryder, Cynthia, 2020. "Can pre-commitment increase savings deposits? Evidence from a tax-time field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 357-380.
    10. Zarko Kalamov & Marco Runkel, 2020. "Present-Focused Preferences and Sin Goods Consumption at the Extensive and Intensive Margins," CESifo Working Paper Series 8237, CESifo.
    11. Incekara-Hafalir, Elif & Linardi, Sera, 2017. "Awareness of low self-control: Theory and evidence from a homeless shelter," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 39-54.
    12. Lades, Leonhard K. & Egan, Mark & Delaney, Liam & Daly, Michael, 2017. "Childhood self-control and adult pension participation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 102-104.
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    14. Lukas, Moritz & Nöth, Markus, 2016. "Commitment and Borrower Heterogeneity: Evidence from Revolving Consumer Credit," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145870, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    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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