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On the Interaction of Memory and Procrastination: Implications for Reminders

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  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson

Abstract

I examine the interaction between present-bias and limited memory. Individuals in the model must choose when and whether to complete a task, but may forget or procrastinate. Present-bias expands the effect of memory: it induces delay and limits take-up of reminders. Cheap reminder technology can bound the cost of limited memory for time-consistent individuals but not for present-biased individuals, who procrastinate on setting up reminders. Moreover, while improving memory increases welfare for time-consistent individuals, it may harm present-biased individuals because limited memory can function as a commitment device. Thus, present-biased individuals may be better off with reminders that are unanticipated. Finally, I show how to optimally time the delivery of reminders to present-biased individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2014. "On the Interaction of Memory and Procrastination: Implications for Reminders," NBER Working Papers 20381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20381
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gilbert, Ben & Graff Zivin, Joshua, 2014. "Dynamic salience with intermittent billing: Evidence from smart electricity meters," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 176-190.
    2. Reis, Ricardo, 2006. "Inattentive consumers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 1761-1800, November.
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    6. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Choice and Procrastination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 121-160.
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    8. Altmann, Steffen & Traxler, Christian, 2014. "Nudges at the dentist," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 19-38.
    9. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2011. "Forgetting We Forget: Overconfidence And Memory," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 43-60, February.
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    11. Ximena Cadena & Antoinette Schoar, 2011. "Remembering to Pay? Reminders vs. Financial Incentives for Loan Payments," NBER Working Papers 17020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    13. Mette Trier Damgaard & Christina Gravert, 2014. "Now or never! The effect of deadlines on charitable giving: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Economics Working Papers 2014-03, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2014. "When Consumers Do Not Make an Active Decision: Dynamic Default Rules and their Equilibrium Effects," NBER Working Papers 20127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:153:y:2018:i:c:p:293-321 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Failing to Choose the Best Price: Theory, Evidence, and Policy," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 303-340, November.
    4. Fuhai HONG & Xiaojian ZHAO, 2014. "Sunk Cost as a Self-Disciplining Device," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1503, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    5. repec:eee:jeborg:v:153:y:2018:i:c:p:267-282 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics

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