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Revising commitments : field evidence on the adjustment of prior choices

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  • Gine, Xavier
  • Goldberg, Jessica
  • Silverman, Dan
  • Yang, Dean

Abstract

The very poor in developing countries often make intertemporal choices that seem at odds with their individual self-interest. There are many possible reasons why. This paper investigates several of these reasons with a lab-in-the-field experiment in rural Malawi involving large stakes. It makes two contributions. First, it constructs a new dependent variable: revisions of prior choices regarding the allocation of future income. This allows us to directly examine intertemporal choice revision and its determinants. In particular, this dependent variable permits a novel test for the existence of self-control problems. It turns out revisions of money allocations toward the present are positively associated with measures of present-bias from an earlier baseline survey, as well as the (randomly assigned) closeness in time to the first possible date of money disbursement. Second, the paper investigates other potential determinants of revision, aside from self-control problems. It finds little evidence that revisions of money allocations toward the present are associated with spousal preferences for such revision, household shocks or the financial sophistication of respondents.

Suggested Citation

  • Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Silverman, Dan & Yang, Dean, 2012. "Revising commitments : field evidence on the adjustment of prior choices," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6093, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6093
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Liu, Elaine M. & Meng, Juanjuan & Wang, Joseph Tao-yi, 2014. "Confucianism and preferences: Evidence from lab experiments in Taiwan and China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 106-122.
    2. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2014. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 36-78, March.
    3. Balakrishnan, Uttara & Haushofer, Johannes & Jakiela, Pamela, 2016. "How Soon Is Now? Evidence of Present Bias from Convex Time Budget Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 9653, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Marco Casari & Davide Dragone, 2015. "Choice reversal without temptation: A dynamic experiment on time preferences," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 119-140, April.
    5. James Andreoni & Michael A. Kuhn & Charles Sprenger, 2013. "On Measuring Time Preferences," NBER Working Papers 19392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Grant Graziani & Wilbert Van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2013. "A boost in the paycheck: survey evidence on workers’ response to the 2011 payroll tax cuts," Staff Reports 592, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    7. Zelalem Yilma & Owen O’Donnell & Anagaw Mebratie & Getnet Alemu & Arjun S. Bedi, 2015. "Subjective Expectations of Medical Expenditures and Insurance in Rural Ethiopia," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-120/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    8. Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.
    9. Lasse Brune & Xavier Giné & Jessica Goldberg & Dean Yang, 2016. "Facilitating Savings for Agriculture: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(2), pages 187-220.
    10. Melanie Lührmann & Marta Serra-Garcia & Joachim Winter, 2014. "The Impact of Financial Education on Adolescents' Intertemporal Choices," CESifo Working Paper Series 4925, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Yang, Xiaojun & Carlsson, Fredrik, 2016. "Influence and choice shifts in households: An experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 54-66.
    12. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2016. "Goals and bracketing under mental accounting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 305-351.
    13. Janssens, Wendy & Kramer, Berber & Swart, Lisette, 2017. "Be patient when measuring hyperbolic discounting: Stationarity, time consistency and time invariance in a field experiment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 77-90.
    14. Andreoni, James & Kuhn, Michael A. & Sprenger, Charles, 2015. "Measuring time preferences: A comparison of experimental methods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 451-464.
    15. James Andreoni & Charles Sprenger, 2015. "Risk Preferences Are Not Time Preferences: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(7), pages 2287-2293, July.
    16. Pamela Jakiela & Owen Ozier, 2016. "Does Africa Need a Rotten Kin Theorem? Experimental Evidence from Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 231-268.
    17. Carvalho, Leandro S. & Prina, Silvia & Sydnor, Justin, 2016. "The effect of saving on risk attitudes and intertemporal choices," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 41-52.
    18. Anett John (née Hofmann), 2014. "When Commitment Fails - Evidence from a Regular Saver Product in the Philippines," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 55, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    19. Mark Dean & Anja Sautmann, 2014. "Credit Constraints and the Measurement of Time Preferences," Working Papers 2014-1, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    20. Yang, Xiaojun & Carlsson, Fredrik, 2012. "Intra-household decisions making on intertemporal choices: An experimental study in rural China," Working Papers in Economics 537, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    21. Sebastian Schweighofer-Kodritsch, 2015. "Time Preferences and Bargaining," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series /2015/568, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Theory&Research; Debt Markets; Science Education; Scientific Research&Science Parks; Emerging Markets;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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