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Write your paper now: Procrastination, conscientiousness and welfare


  • Hendrik van Broekhuizen

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)


Procrastination is an almost archetypal phenomenon of human behaviour, the nature and prevalence of which may have severe implications for the foundations of Microeconomic theory and the rational actor model. This paper aims to assess why and how agents procrastinate in theory and what the implications of procrastination may be. It is argued that procrastination is a rational response to present-biased preferences and that the extent of procrastination, and the subsequent welfare implications thereof, depends on the degree of conscientiousness regarding one’s own expected future self-control problems and the nature and requirements of the task with which one is assigned. The theoretical model proposed to analyse procrastination therefore parameterises the temporal evolution of present-biased preferences as a function of agents’ levels of conscientiousness. It is found that less conscientious agents tend to procrastinate more than more conscientious agents, that uncertainty exacerbates the extent and compounds the implications of procrastinating behaviour, and, consequently, that procrastination is more likely to be welfare non-maximising the lower an agent’s level of conscientiousness and the greater the amount of uncertainty that exists regarding the nature and requirements of the task with which the agent is assigned.

Suggested Citation

  • Hendrik van Broekhuizen, 2010. "Write your paper now: Procrastination, conscientiousness and welfare," Working Papers 25/2010, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers124

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    More about this item


    procrastination; dynamic inconsistency; present-biased preferences; quasi-hyperbolic discounting; differential salience; conscientiousness; sophistication; naivety;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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