Health Club Attendance, Expectations and Self-Control
Using a unique dataset on health club attendance from Quebec, we look at the relationship between actual and expected attendance and how these relate to measures of self-control. We find that a large majority of contract choices appear inconsistent if we do not take into account the commitment value of long-term contracts for attendees with self-control problems: 41% of members would be better off paying the fee for a single visit each time they go to the gym rather than signing a long-term contract. We then find that almost all members have made the right decision once we use subjectives expectations on the number of visits per week at the time of contract choice. We estimate that the median total cost is $229 for those making a mistake. Next, we study how actual attendance following contract choice is related to measures of self-control. We find that reports of self-control problems at baseline are associated with low future attendance and that attendance decreases faster, in particular after New Year, for those expressing such problems. Quite interestingly, those expressing self-control problems do not expect at baseline to attend less often. We show that these results are consistent with a model where agents underestimate the severity of their self-control problems and estimate this degree of underestimation.
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University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series
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