IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Job Search and Hyperbolic Discounting: Structural Estimation and Policy Evaluation

  • M. Daniele Paserman

Job search is an unpleasant activity with immediate costs and delayed benefits. The tension between long-run goals and short-run impulses may lead unemployed workers to postpone repeatedly tasks necessary to find a job. In standard economic models, agents are assumed to be time-consistent, so that a contrast between short-run and long-run preferences never arises. However, a growing literature has challenged the conventional view, and allows agents to be time inconsistent by modeling their discount function as hyperbolic (as opposed to the standard assumption of exponential discounting). Agents with hyperbolic discount functions exhibit a high degree of discounting in the short run, but a relatively low degree of discounting in the long run. Therefore, hyperbolic agents are likely to delay tasks with immediate costs and delayed benefits, whereas they would choose to perform the same task if both costs and benefits were to occur in the future. This paper estimates the structural parameters of a job search model with hyperbolic discounting and endogenous search effort. It estimates quantitatively the degree of hyperbolic discounting, and assesses its implications for the impact of various policy interventions aimed at reducing unemployment. The model is estimated using data on unemployment spells and accepted wages from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). The likelihood function explicitly incorporates all the restrictions implied by the optimal dynamic programming solution to the model, and also accounts for both observed and unobserved heterogeneity. The parameters of the hyperbolic discount function are separately identified because different forms of discounting have contrasting effects on the different components of the job search process. The results point to a substantial degree of hyperbolic discounting, especially for low and medium wage workers. The structural estimates are also used to evaluate alternative policy interventions for the unemployed: a cut in unemployment benefits, a job search assistance program, monitoring search effort, monitoring the job acceptance strategy, and a re-employment bonus. I find that ignoring hyperbolic preferences may lead one to incorrect inferences on the effects of these interventions.

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:
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify (Christian Zimmermann)

File Function: main text
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2004 Meeting Papers with number 99.

in new window

Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:99
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
Web page:

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. 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.
  2. Gary Koop & Dale J. Poirier, 2001. "Testing for optimality in job search models," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 4(2), pages 6.
  3. Hanming Fang & Dan Silverman, 2007. "Time-Inconsistency and Welfare Program Participation: Evidence from the NLSY," NBER Working Papers 13375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lippman, Steven A & McCall, John J, 1976. "The Economics of Job Search: A Survey," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(3), pages 347-68, September.
  5. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  6. van den Berg, Gerard J, 1990. "Nonstationarity in Job Search Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 255-77, April.
  7. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-31, November.
  8. Lancaster, Tony, 1997. "Exact Structural Inference in Optimal Job-Search Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(2), pages 165-79, April.
  9. Christopher Harris & David Laibson, 1999. "Dynamic Choices of Hyperbolic Consumers," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1886, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. repec:rus:hseeco:93730 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Harry J. Holzer, 1986. "Search Method Use by Unemployed Youth," NBER Working Papers 1859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt & Seth D. Harris & Orley Lobel (ed.), Labor and Employment Law and Economics, volume 2, pages 480-516 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    • Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Chapters, in: Labor and Employment Law and Economics, chapter 17 Edward Elgar.
  13. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Choice and Procrastination," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5r26k54p, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  14. Berg, Gerard J. van den & Klaauw, Bas van der & Ours, Jan C. van, 1998. "Punitive sanctions and the transition rate from welfare to work," Serie Research Memoranda 0033, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  15. Woodbury, Stephen A & Spiegelman, Robert G, 1987. "Bonuses to Workers and Employers to Reduce Unemployment: Randomized Trials in Illinois," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 513-30, September.
  16. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  17. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
  18. Orley Ashenfelter & David Ashmore & Olivier Deschenes, 1999. "Do Unemployment Insurance Recipients Actively Seek Work? Randomized Trials in Four U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 6982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Diamond, Peter & Koszegi, Botond, 2003. "Quasi-hyperbolic discounting and retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1839-1872, September.
  20. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  21. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
  22. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
  23. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
  24. Bruce D. Meyer, 1995. "Lessons from the U.S. Unemployment Insurance Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 91-131, March.
  25. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:4:p:1261-1303 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Koszegi, 2000. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Burdett, Kenneth & Ondrich, Jan I, 1985. "How Changes in Labor Demand Affect Unemployed Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-10, January.
  28. Gerard J. van den Berg & Bas van der Klaauw & Jan C. van Ours, 1998. "Punitive Sanctions and the Transition Rate from Welfare to Work," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 98-076/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  29. Blau, David M & Robins, Philip K, 1990. "Job Search Outcomes for the Employed and Unemployed," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 637-55, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed004:99. 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: (Christian Zimmermann)

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.