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Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences

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  • Fischer, Carolyn

    () (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

Salience costs, along with imperfect foresight, have been used in previous studies to explain procrastination of a one-time task. A companion to this paper, "Read This Paper Later: Procrastination with Time-Consistent Preferences" analyzes the extent to which procrastination of a divisible task is compatible with rational behavior. While the fully rational model explains key qualitative observations, it requires an extremely high rate of time preference or elasticity of intertemporal substitution to generate serious procrastination and cannot explain undesired procrastination at all. This paper investigates the extent to which dynamically inconsistent preferences can better explain such impatience and address the issue of self-control failures. Two types of discount functions are presented, motivated by previous salience cost explanations. Hyperbolic discounting corresponds to a salient present; short-term discount rates are higher than long-term ones. A new form, differential discounting, arises from salient costs; utility from leisure is discounted at a higher rate than rewards from work. The model of a divisible task with delayed rewards generates clear predictions that can be used to distinguish between types. When workers have rational expectations about future behavior, both regimes induce self-control problems and sharper procrastination than standard exponential discounting. However, they have different implications for policies to induce work, reduce procrastination, and improve welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Fischer, Carolyn, 1999. "Read This Paper Even Later: Procrastination with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Papers dp-99-20, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-99-20
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    File URL: http://www.rff.org/RFF/documents/RFF-DP-99-20.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Fischer, Carolyn, 2001. "Read this paper later: procrastination with time-consistent preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 249-269, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Saez-Marti, Maria & Sjögren, Anna, 2008. "Deadlines and distractions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 143(1), pages 153-176, November.
    2. O’Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Addiction and Present-Biased Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3v86x53j, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    3. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2012. "Masters of our time: Impatience and self-control in high-level chess games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 179-191.
    4. Asheim, Geir B., 2007. "Procrastination, partial naivete, and behavioral welfare analysis," Memorandum 02/2007, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    5. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2011. "Performance of procrastinators: on the value of deadlines," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 329-366, March.
    6. Aronsson, Thomas & Thunström, Linda, 2005. "Optimal Paternalism: Sin Taxes and Health Subsidies," Umeå Economic Studies 662, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    7. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Choice and Procrastination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 121-160.
    8. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Filippos Papakonstantinou & Jonathan A. Parker, 2008. "An Economic Model of the Planning Fallacy," NBER Working Papers 14228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Fischer, Carolyn, 2001. "Read this paper later: procrastination with time-consistent preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 249-269, November.
    10. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    11. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Risky Behavior among Youths: Some Issues from Behavioral Economics," NBER Chapters,in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 29-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2006. "Optimal sin taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1825-1849, November.
    13. Akin, Zafer, 2012. "Intertemporal decision making with present biased preferences," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 30-47.
    14. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2008. "Procrastination on long-term projects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 161-175, May.
    15. Zafer Akin & Abdullah Yavas, 2008. "An Experimental Analysis of Time-Inconsistency in Long-Run Projects," Working Papers 0809, TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Department of Economics.
    16. repec:eee:matsoc:v:87:y:2017:i:c:p:40-54 is not listed on IDEAS

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