IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Optimal Irrational Behavior

Contrary to the usual presumption that welfare in markets is maximized if consumers behave rationally, we show in a two-period overlapping generations model that there always exists an irrational consumption rule that can weakly improve upon the lifecycle/permanent-income rule in general equilibrium. The market-clearing mechanism introduces a pecuniary externality that individual rational households do not consider when making decisions but a publically shared rule of thumb can exploit. For typical calibrations, the improvement of the welfare of irrational households is robust to the introduction of rational agents. Although transitions to the optimal irrational steady state are not Pareto improving, transitions do exist that will improve a Pareto social welfare function with a sufficiently small generational discount rate. Generalizing to a more realistic lifecycle model, we find that the Save More Tomorrow(TM) (SMarT) Plan, if properly parameterized, can confer higher lifetime utility than the permanent-income rule.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.pitt.edu/~jfeigen/optimalirrational.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 368.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision: Sep 2008
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:368
Contact details of provider: Postal:
4S01 W.W. Posvar hall, 230 Bouquet St, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Phone: (412)648-1760
Fax: (412)648-1793
Web page: http://www.econ.pitt.edu/

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. John Geanakoplos, 2008. "Overlapping Generations Models of General Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1663, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. James Feigenbaum, 2008. "Optimal Irrational Behavior," Working Papers 368, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2008.
  3. James B. Bullard & James Feigenbaum, 2006. "A leisurely reading of the life-cycle consumption data," Working Papers 2003-017, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  4. Larry Blume & David Easley, 2001. "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? Belief Selection in Complete and Incomplete Markets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1319, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Christopher D Carroll & Miles S Kimball, 2001. "Liquidity Constraints and Precautionary Saving," Economics Working Paper Archive 455, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  6. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2003. "Macroeconomic Priorities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 1-14, March.
  7. Jonathan S. Skinner, 1987. "Risky Income, Life Cycle Consumption, and Precautionary Savings," NBER Working Papers 2336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Aviad Heifetz & Chris Shannon & Yossi Spiegel, 2003. "What to Maximize If You Must," Game Theory and Information 0303002, EconWPA.
  9. Findley, T. Scott & Caliendo, Frank N., 2010. "Does it pay to be SMarT?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(03), pages 321-344, July.
  10. Richard Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. James Feigenbaum, 2006. "Precautionary Saving Unfettered," Working Papers 227, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2006.
  12. Feigenbaum, James, 2008. "Information shocks and precautionary saving," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 3917-3938, December.
  13. Allen, Todd W. & Carroll, Christopher D., 2001. "Individual Learning About Consumption," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 255-271, April.
  14. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  15. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Naive Diversification Strategies in Defined Contribution Saving Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 79-98, March.
  16. Philippe Weil, 2008. "Overlapping Generations: The First Jubilee," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 115-34, Fall.
  17. Balasko, Yves & Shell, Karl, 1980. "The overlapping-generations model, I: The case of pure exchange without money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 281-306, December.
  18. Ayşe İmrohoroğlu & Selahattin İmrohoroğlu & Douglas H. Joines, 2003. "Time-Inconsistent Preferences and Social Security," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 745-784.
  19. John Geanakoplos, 2008. "Overlapping Generations Models of General Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002225, David K. Levine.
  20. Feigenbaum, James & Caliendo, Frank N., 2010. "Optimal irrational behavior in continuous time," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1907-1922, October.
  21. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Economic Logic blog

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:368. 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: (Alistair Wilson)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.