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Commitment and welfare

Frank N. Caliendo and T. Scott Findley

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2019, vol. 159, issue C, 210-234

Abstract: The standard approach to welfare analysis under dynamically inconsistent preferences is to assume that the welfare of an individual is maximized if he can commit to his initial goal. We study a potential rationale for such welfare analysis. In some prominent, well-studied examples with intertemporal tradeoffs (like the choice between investing in a project now or later, doing an unpleasant task now or procrastinating it until later, and eating a cake), we find that the commitment allocation can multiself Pareto dominate the non-cooperative equilibrium allocation if the number of time-dated selves exceeds a low threshold. While a common concern with behavioral welfare analysis is that the later selves of an individual are unfairly hurt as a result of committing the individual to his initial goal, our findings indicate that this concern may be more relevant for settings where the number of sequential choices is very low.

Keywords: Commitment; Behavioral welfare analysis; Dynamic inconsistency; Hyperbolic discounting (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D60 D90 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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