IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/cawmdp/121.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

"Pay-later" vs. "pay-as-you-go": Experimental evidence on present-biased overconsumption and the importance of timing

Author

Listed:
  • Werthschulte, Madeline

Abstract

When consuming goods provided by public utilities, such as telecommunication, water, gas or electricity, the predominant payment scheme is pay-later billing. This paper identifies one potential consequence of pay-later schemes, present-biased overconsumption of the respective good, and tests the effectiveness of pay-as-you-go schemes in reducing consumption. Specifically, I run a lab experiment which mimics an energy consumption choice and randomizes the timing of when consumption costs are paid: Either immediately ('pay-as-you-go') or one-week after consumption ('pay-later'). Results show that pay-as-you-go billing significantly decreases consumption, and in particular wasteful consumption. As the design controls for contaminating effects, these results can be solely attributed to present-biased discounting under the pay-later scheme. These results imply that pay-as-you-go schemes will be welfare improving both from agent's own perspective and from a social perspective if externalities are involved. In contrast, classic price-based polices will need correctives to account for present bias arising under pay-later schemes.

Suggested Citation

  • Werthschulte, Madeline, 2020. ""Pay-later" vs. "pay-as-you-go": Experimental evidence on present-biased overconsumption and the importance of timing," MEP Discussion Papers 121, University of Münster, Münster Center for Economic Policy (MEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cawmdp:121
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/226184/1/1739009622.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Keys, Benjamin J. & Wang, Jialan, 2019. "Minimum payments and debt paydown in consumer credit cards," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(3), pages 528-548.
    2. Gilbert, Ben & Graff Zivin, Joshua, 2014. "Dynamic salience with intermittent billing: Evidence from smart electricity meters," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 176-190.
    3. Lynham, John & Nitta, Kohei & Saijo, Tatsuyoshi & Tarui, Nori, 2016. "Why does real-time information reduce energy consumption?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 173-181.
    4. Ben Greiner, 2015. "Subject pool recruitment procedures: organizing experiments with ORSEE," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 114-125, July.
    5. Shilpa Aggarwal & Rebecca Dizon-Ross & Ariel D. Zucker, 2020. "Incentivizing Behavioral Change: The Role of Time Preferences," NBER Working Papers 27079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Kelsey Jack & Grant Smith, 2020. "Charging Ahead: Prepaid Metering, Electricity Use, and Utility Revenue," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 134-168, April.
    7. Stephan Meier & Charles Sprenger, 2010. "Present-Biased Preferences and Credit Card Borrowing," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 193-210, January.
    8. Jonathan Cohen & Keith Marzilli Ericson & David Laibson & John Myles White, 2020. "Measuring Time Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(2), pages 299-347, June.
    9. Leandro S. Carvalho & Stephan Meier & Stephanie W. Wang, 2016. "Poverty and Economic Decision-Making: Evidence from Changes in Financial Resources at Payday," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(2), pages 260-284, February.
    10. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2005. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000643, UCLA Department of Economics.
    11. James Andreoni & Charles Sprenger, 2012. "Estimating Time Preferences from Convex Budgets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3333-3356, December.
    12. Ned Augenblick & Muriel Niederle & Charles Sprenger, 2015. "Editor's Choice Working over Time: Dynamic Inconsistency in Real Effort Tasks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(3), pages 1067-1115.
    13. Michael D. Grubb & Matthew Osborne, 2015. "Cellular Service Demand: Biased Beliefs, Learning, and Bill Shock," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 234-271, January.
    14. Katrina Jessoe & David Rapson, 2014. "Knowledge Is (Less) Power: Experimental Evidence from Residential Energy Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1417-1438, April.
    15. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
    16. Ned Augenblick & Matthew Rabin, 2019. "An Experiment on Time Preference and Misprediction in Unpleasant Tasks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(3), pages 941-975.
    17. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
    18. Gilbert, Ben & Graff Zivin, Joshua S., 2020. "Dynamic corrective taxes with time-varying salience," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 103(C).
    19. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "A Model of the Consumption Response to Fiscal Stimulus Payments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(4), pages 1199-1239, July.
    20. Wichman, Casey J., 2017. "Information provision and consumer behavior: A natural experiment in billing frequency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 13-33.
    21. Supreet Kaur & Michael Kremer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2015. "Self-Control at Work," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(6), pages 1227-1277.
    22. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    23. Steven Sexton, 2015. "Automatic Bill Payment and Salience Effects: Evidence from Electricity Consumption," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 229-241, May.
    24. Aggarwal, Shilpa & Dizon-Ross, Rebecca & Zucker, Ariel, 2020. "Incentivizing Behavioral Change: The Role of Time Preferences," CEPR Discussion Papers 14751, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    25. Werthschulte, Madeline & Löschel, Andreas, 2019. "Cost misperceptions and energy consumption: Experimental evidence for present bias and biased price beliefs," CAWM Discussion Papers 111, University of Münster, Center of Applied Economic Research Münster (CAWM).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Werthschulte, Madeline, 2020. ""Pay-later" vs. "pay-as-you-go": Experimental evidence on present-biased overconsumption and the importance of timing," ZEW Discussion Papers 20-089, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    2. Werthschulte, Madeline & Löschel, Andreas, 2021. "On the role of present bias and biased price beliefs in household energy consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    3. Taisuke Imai & Tom A Rutter & Colin F Camerer, 2021. "Meta-Analysis of Present-Bias Estimation using Convex Time Budgets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 131(636), pages 1788-1814.
    4. Thomas Epper & Ernst Fehr & Helga Fehr-Duda & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & David Dreyer Lassen & Søren Leth-Petersen & Gregers Nytoft Rasmussen, 2020. "Time Discounting and Wealth Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(4), pages 1177-1205, April.
    5. Werthschulte, Madeline & Löschel, Andreas, 2019. "Cost misperceptions and energy consumption: Experimental evidence for present bias and biased price beliefs," CAWM Discussion Papers 111, University of Münster, Center of Applied Economic Research Münster (CAWM).
    6. James Andreoni & Christina Gravert & Michael A. Kuhn & Silvia Saccardo & Yang Yang, 2018. "Arbitrage Or Narrow Bracketing? On Using Money to Measure Intertemporal Preferences," NBER Working Papers 25232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Gilbert, Ben & Graff Zivin, Joshua S., 2020. "Dynamic corrective taxes with time-varying salience," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 103(C).
    8. Backes-Gellner, Uschi & Herz, Holger & Kosfeld, Michael & Oswald, Yvonne, 2021. "Do preferences and biases predict life outcomes? Evidence from education and labor market entry decisions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    9. Uttara Balakrishnan & Johannes Haushofer & Pamela Jakiela, 2020. "How soon is now? Evidence of present bias from convex time budget experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 23(2), pages 294-321, June.
    10. Melanie Lührmann & Marta Serra-Garcia & Joachim Winter, 2018. "The Impact of Financial Education on Adolescents' Intertemporal Choices," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 309-332, August.
    11. Zachary Breig, 2020. "Prediction and Model Selection in Experiments," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 96(313), pages 153-176, June.
    12. Cheung, Stephen L. & Tymula, Agnieszka & Wang, Xueting, 2021. "Quasi-Hyperbolic Present Bias: A Meta-Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 14625, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Murat Yilmaz, 2018. "An Extended Survey of Time-Inconsistency and Its Applications," Bogazici Journal, Review of Social, Economic and Administrative Studies, Bogazici University, Department of Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 55-73.
    14. Shilpa Aggarwal & Rebecca Dizon-Ross & Ariel D. Zucker, 2020. "Incentivizing Behavioral Change: The Role of Time Preferences," NBER Working Papers 27079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Kuchler, Theresa & Pagel, Michaela, 2021. "Sticking to your plan: The role of present bias for credit card paydown," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(2), pages 359-388.
    16. Matsukawa, Isamu, 2018. "Information acquisition and residential electricity consumption: Evidence from a field experiment," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1-19.
    17. Cheung, Stephen L. & Tymula, Agnieszka & Wang, Xueting, 2020. "Present Bias for Monetary and Dietary Rewards: Evidence from Chinese Teenagers," IZA Discussion Papers 13406, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Hinnosaar, Marit, 2016. "Time inconsistency and alcohol sales restrictions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 108-131.
    19. Piccoli, Luca & Tiezzi, Silvia, 2021. "Rational addiction and time-consistency: An empirical test," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
    20. Anett John, 2020. "When Commitment Fails: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(2), pages 503-529, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    payment schemes; present bias; discounting; lab experiment; energy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D15 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Intertemporal Household Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • Q49 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Other

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:cawmdp:121. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/camuede.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/camuede.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.