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Procrastination on Long-Term Projects

Author

Listed:
  • Ted O'Donoghue

    (Cornell University)

  • Matthew Rabin

    (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

Previous papers on time-inconsistent procrastination assume projects are completed once begun. We develop a model in which a person chooses whether and when to complete each stage of a long-term project. In addition to procrastination in starting a project, a naive person might undertake costly effort to begin a project but then never complete it. When the costs of completing different stages are more unequal, procrastination is more likely, and it is when later stages are more c- ostly that people start but don't finish projects. Moreover, if the structure of costs over the course of a project is endogenous, people are prone to choose cost structures that lead them to start but not finish projects. We also consider several extensions of the model that further illustrate how people may incur costs on projects they never complete.

Suggested Citation

  • Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Procrastination on Long-Term Projects," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0303003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmh:0303003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    4. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2011. "Performance of procrastinators: on the value of deadlines," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 329-366, March.
    5. Andor, Mark A. & Fels, Katja M. & Renz, Jan & Rzepka, Sylvi, 2018. "Do planning prompts increase educational success? Evidence from randomized controlled trials in MOOCs," Ruhr Economic Papers 790, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    6. Akin, Zafer, 2012. "Intertemporal decision making with present biased preferences," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 30-47.
    7. Philipp Weinschenk, 2010. "Increasing Workload in a Stochastic Environment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_43, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    8. Melguizo, Isabel, 2016. "When to Do the Hard Stuff? Dispositions, Movitavtion and th Choice of Difficulties," MPRA Paper 77303, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Altınok, Ahmet & Yılmaz, Murat, 2018. "Dynamic voluntary contribution to a public project under time inconsistency," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 114-140.
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    12. Jean-Louis Denis & Geneviève Dompierre & Ann Langley & Linda Rouleau, 2011. "Escalating Indecision: Between Reification and Strategic Ambiguity," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(1), pages 225-244, February.
    13. Andor, Mark A. & Fels, Katja M., 2018. "Behavioral Economics and Energy Conservation – A Systematic Review of Non-price Interventions and Their Causal Effects," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 178-210.

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    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B49 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Other
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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