Denial of Death and Economic Behavior
We model denial of death and its effect on economic behavior. Attempts to reduce death anxiety and the possibility of denial of mortality-relevant information interact with intertemporal choices and may lead to time-inconsistent behavior and other "behavioral" phenomena. In the model, repression of signals of mortality leads to underconsumption for unsophisticated individuals, but forward-sophisticated individuals may over-consume in anticipation of future denial and may seek ways to commit to act according to one's mortality prospects as currently perceived. We show that the mere possibility of engaging in this kind of denial leads to time-inconsistent but efficient behavior. Refusal to face up to the reality of death may help explain a wide range of empirical phenomena, including the underutilization of tax-advanced inter vivos gifts and inadequate purchase of life insurance.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Advances in Theoretical Economics, 2005: Vol. 5: No. 1, Article 5.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-19, June.
- Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999.
"Doing It Now or Later,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
- Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
- O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Sendhil Mullainathan & Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "Behavioral Economics," NBER Working Papers 7948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2004.
NBER Working Papers
10707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Optimal expectations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24954, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Optimal Expectations," Working Papers 146, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics.
- Jonathan Parker & Markus K Brunnermeier, 2002. "Optimal Expectations," FMG Discussion Papers dp434, Financial Markets Group.
- Jonathan A. Parker & Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2004. "Optimal Expectations," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 426, Econometric Society.
- Brunnermeier, Markus K & Parker, Jonathan A, 2004. "Optimal Expectation," CEPR Discussion Papers 4656, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001.
"Temptation and Self-Control,"
Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
- Matthew Rabin., 1997.
"Psychology and Economics,"
Economics Working Papers
97-251, University of California at Berkeley.
- Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2000.
"Choice, Chance, and Wealth Dispersion at Retirement,"
NBER Working Papers
7521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2001. "Choice, Chance, and Wealth Dispersion at Retirement," NBER Chapters, in: Aging Issues in the United States and Japan, pages 25-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- V. Kerry Smith & Donald H. Taylor & Frank A. Sloan, 2001.
"Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1126-1134, September.
- Smith, V. Kerry & Taylor, Donald H., Jr. & Sloan, Frank A., 2000. "Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?," Working Papers 00-15, Duke University, Department of Economics.
- Koszegi, Botond, 2003. "Health anxiety and patient behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 1073-1084, November.
- Poterba, James, 2001. "Estate and gift taxes and incentives for inter vivos giving in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 237-264, January.
- 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.
- Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
- B. Douglas Bernheim & Lorenzo Forni & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2001. "The mismatch between life insurance holdings and financial vulnerabilities: evidence from the Health and Retirement Survey," Working Paper 0109, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79.
- B. Douglas Bernheim & Lorenzo Forni & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2003. "The Mismatch Between Life Insurance Holdings and Financial Vulnerabilities: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 354-365, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11485. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.