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Temptation and Self-Control: Some Evidence and Applications

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  • Kevin X.D. Huang

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • Zheng Liu

    () (Department of Economics, Emory University)

  • John Q. Zhu

    () (Department of Economics, Emory University)

Abstract

This paper studies the empirical relevance of temptation and self-control using household-level data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We construct an infinite-horizon consumption-savings model that allows, but does not require, temptation and self-control in preferences. To distinguish temptation preferences from others, we exploit individual-level heterogeneities in our data set, and we rely on an implication of the theory that a more tempted individual should be more likely to hold commitment assets. In the presence of temptation, the cross-sectional distribution of the wealth-consumption ratio, in addition to that of consumption growth, becomes a determinant of the asset-pricing kernel, and the importance of this additional pricing factor depends on the strength of temptation. The empirical estimates that we obtain provide statistical evidence supporting the presence of temptation. Based on our estimates, we explore some quantitative implications of this class of preferences for capital accumulation in a neoclassical growth model and the welfare cost of the business cycle.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin X.D. Huang & Zheng Liu & John Q. Zhu, 2007. "Temptation and Self-Control: Some Evidence and Applications," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0711, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0711
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    Cited by:

    1. Cagri Seda Kumru & Athanasios C. Thanopoulos, 2011. "Self-control Preferences and Taxation: A Quantitative Analysis in a Life-cycle Model," Working Papers 201122, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales.
    2. Kumru, Cagri S. & Tran, Chung, 2012. "Temptation and social security in a dynastic framework," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1422-1445.
    3. Tran, Chung, 2016. "Fiscal policy as a temptation control device: Savings subsidy and social security," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 254-268.
    4. Tsvetan Tsvetanov & Kathleen Segerson, 2011. "Re-Evaluating the Role of Energy Efficiency Standards: A Time-Consistent Behavioral Economics Approach," Working papers 2011-24, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    5. Kumru, Cagri S. & Thanopoulos, Athanasios C., 2011. "Social security reform with self-control preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 886-899, August.
    6. Tran, Chung, 2018. "Temptation and taxation with elastic labor," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 351-369.
    7. Airaudo, Marco, 2016. "Endogenous Stock Price Fluctuations with Dynamic Self-Control Preferences," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2016-2, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University.
    8. Tsvetanov, Tsvetan & Segerson, Kathleen, 2011. "Re-Evaluating the Role of Energy Efficiency Standards: A Time-Consistent Behavioral Economics Approach," Working Paper series 148295, University of Connecticut, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.
    9. Pier-André Bouchard St-Amant & Jean-Denis Garon, 2015. "Optimal redistributive pensions and the cost of self-control," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(5), pages 723-740, October.
    10. Tsvetan Tsvetanov & Kathleen Segerson, 2011. "Re-Evaluating the Role of Energy Efficiency Standards: A Time-Consistent Behavioral Economics Approach," Working Papers 07, University of Connecticut, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.
    11. Driscoll, John C. & Holden, Steinar, 2014. "Behavioral economics and macroeconomic models," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 133-147.
    12. Bouchard St-Amant, Pier-Andre & Garon, Jean-Denis, 2013. "Optimal Redistributive Pensions with Temptation and Costly Self-Control," Queen's Economics Department Working Papers 274636, Queen's University - Department of Economics.
    13. Airaudo, Marco, 2017. "Temptation and Forward Guidance," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2017-4, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University.
    14. Reddy Sai Shiva & Kausik Gangopadhyay, 2018. "Temptation in purchasing decision: A Quasi Experiment to Validate the Set Betweenness axiom," Working papers 268, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode.

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    Keywords

    Temptation; self-control; limited participation; growth; welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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