IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/18248.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice: Evidence from Commodity Price Shocks

Author

Listed:
  • Justine Hastings
  • Jesse M. Shapiro

Abstract

We formulate a test of the fungibility of money based on parallel shifts in the prices of different quality grades of a commodity. We embed the test in a discrete-choice model of product quality choice and estimate the model using panel microdata on gasoline purchases. We find that when gasoline prices rise consumers substitute to lower octane gasoline, to an extent that cannot be explained by income effects. Across a wide range of specifications, we consistently reject the null hypothesis that households treat "gas money" as fungible with other income. We evaluate the quantitative performance of a set of psychological models of decision-making in explaining the patterns we observe. We also use our findings to shed light on extant stylized facts about the time-series properties of retail markups in gasoline markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Justine Hastings & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2012. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice: Evidence from Commodity Price Shocks," NBER Working Papers 18248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18248
    Note: IO
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18248.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2010. "The Consumption Response to Income Changes," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 479-506, September.
    2. Milkman, Katherine L. & Beshears, John, 2009. "Mental accounting and small windfalls: Evidence from an online grocer," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 384-394, August.
    3. Hanemann, W Michael, 1984. "Discrete-Continuous Models of Consumer Demand," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 541-561, May.
    4. Anderson, Soren T. & Kellogg, Ryan & Sallee, James M., 2013. "What do consumers believe about future gasoline prices?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 383-403.
    5. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2004. "Contract Design and Self-Control: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 353-402.
    6. Levon Barseghyan & Francesca Molinari & Ted O'Donoghue & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2013. "The Nature of Risk Preferences: Evidence from Insurance Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2499-2529, October.
    7. Heiss, Florian & Winschel, Viktor, 2008. "Likelihood approximation by numerical integration on sparse grids," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 62-80, May.
    8. Dora Gicheva & Justine Hastings & Sofia Villas-Boas, 2007. "Revisiting the Income Effect: Gasoline Prices and Grocery Purchases," NBER Working Papers 13614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Greg M. Allenby & Peter E. Rossi, 1991. "Quality Perceptions and Asymmetric Switching Between Brands," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(3), pages 185-204.
    10. Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2012. "Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 216-250, August.
    11. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Salience and Consumer Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(5), pages 803-843.
    12. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
    13. Matthew S. Lewis, 2011. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 409-449, June.
    14. Naomi E. Feldman, 2010. "Mental Accounting Effects of Income Tax Shifting," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 70-86, February.
    15. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496.
    16. Aviv Nevo, 2000. "A Practitioner's Guide to Estimation of Random-Coefficients Logit Models of Demand," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(4), pages 513-548, December.
    17. Sam Peltzman, 2000. "Prices Rise Faster than They Fall," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 466-502, June.
    18. Azar, Ofer H., 2007. "Relative thinking theory," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 1-14, February.
    19. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
    20. Meghan R. Busse & Christopher R. Knittel & Florian Zettelmeyer, 2009. "Pain at the Pump: The Differential Effect of Gasoline Prices on New and Used Automobile Markets," NBER Working Papers 15590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel & Daniel Sperling, 2008. "Evidence of a Shift in the Short-Run Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 113-134.
    22. Christopher R. Knittel & Ryan Sandler, 2011. "Cleaning the Bathwater with the Baby: The Health Co-Benefits of Carbon Pricing in Transportation," NBER Working Papers 17390, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Jean-Pierre Dubé, 2004. "Multiple Discreteness and Product Differentiation: Demand for Carbonated Soft Drinks," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(1), pages 66-81, September.
    24. Michael D. Grubb & Matthew Osborne, 2015. "Cellular Service Demand: Biased Beliefs, Learning, and Bill Shock," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 234-271, January.
    25. Steven T. Berry, 1994. "Estimating Discrete-Choice Models of Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 242-262, Summer.
    26. Johannes Abeler & Felix Marklein, 2017. "Fungibility, Labels, and Consumption," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 99-127.
    27. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:4:y:2006:i:35:p:1-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    28. Deaton,Angus & Muellbauer,John, 1980. "Economics and Consumer Behavior," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521296762, April.
    29. Robert Lawson & Lauren Raymer, 2006. "Testing the Alchian-Allen Theorem: A Study of Consumer Behavior in the Gasoline Market," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 4(35), pages 1-6.
    30. Melvin Stephens, 2004. "Job Loss Expectations, Realizations, and Household Consumption Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 253-269, February.
    31. Sobel, Russell S & Garrett, Thomas A, 1997. "Taxation and Product Quality: New Evidence from Generic Cigarettes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 880-887, August.
    32. Amil Petrin, 2002. "Quantifying the Benefits of New Products: The Case of the Minivan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 705-729, August.
    33. N/A, 2009. "On the Recession," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 24(3), pages 253-253, May.
    34. Heath, Chip & Soll, Jack B, 1996. " Mental Budgeting and Consumer Decisions," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 40-52, June.
    35. Kwangpil Chang & S. Siddarth & Charles B. Weinberg, 1999. "The Impact of Heterogeneity in Purchase Timing and Price Responsiveness on Estimates of Sticker Shock Effects," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(2), pages 178-192.
    36. Barzel, Yoram, 1976. "An Alternative Approach to the Analysis of Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1177-1197, December.
    37. R. Morris Coats & Gary M. Pecquet & Leon Taylor, 2005. "The pricing of gasoline grades and the third law of demand," Microeconomics 0506006, EconWPA.
    38. Michael Conlin & Ted O'Donoghue & Timothy J. Vogelsang, 2007. "Projection Bias in Catalog Orders," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1217-1249, September.
    39. James L. Smith, 2009. "World Oil: Market or Mayhem?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 145-164, Summer.
    40. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-890, July.
    41. John B. Taylor, 2009. "The Financial Crisis and the Policy Responses: An Empirical Analysis of What Went Wrong," NBER Working Papers 14631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    42. Suzanne Fogel & Dan Lovallo & Carmina Caringal, 2004. "Loss Aversion for Quality in Consumer Choice," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 29(1), pages 45-63, June.
    43. Willig, Robert D., 1978. "Incremental consumer's surplus and hedonic price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 227-253, April.
    44. Melvin Stephens, 2001. "The Long-Run Consumption Effects Of Earnings Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 28-36, February.
    45. David R. Bell & James M. Lattin, 2000. "Looking for Loss Aversion in Scanner Panel Data: The Confounding Effect of Price Response Heterogeneity," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(2), pages 185-200, May.
    46. Read, Daniel & Loewenstein, George & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Choice Bracketing," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 171-197, December.
    47. Peter Kooreman, 2000. "The Labeling Effect of a Child Benefit System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 571-583, June.
    48. Setiawan, Winardi & Sperling, Daniel, 1993. "Premium Gasoline Overbuying in the U.S.: Consumer-Based Choice Analysis," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt2v86h1sp, University of California Transportation Center.
    49. Skinner, Jonathan, 1987. "A superior measure of consumption from the panel study of income dynamics," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 213-216.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Fels, Markus, 2015. "Mental accounting, access motives, and overinsurance," Working Paper Series in Economics 69, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.
    2. Peter Cappelli & Shinjae Won, 2016. "How You Pay Affects How You Do: Financial Aid Type and Student Performance in College," NBER Working Papers 22604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18248. 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.