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Procrastination and impatience

Ernesto Reuben (), Paola Sapienza () and Luigi Zingales ()

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), 2015, vol. 58, issue C, 63-76

Abstract: We use a combination of lab and field evidence to study whether highly-impatient individuals are more likely to procrastinate. To measure impatience, we elicit individual discount rates by giving participants choices between smaller-sooner and larger-later rewards. To measure procrastination, we record how quickly participants complete three tasks: an online game, their application to the university, and a mandatory survey. We find that, consistent with the theory, impatient individuals procrastinate more, but only in tasks where there are costs to delay (the online game and university application). Since we pay participants by check, we are also able to determine whether the participants’ cashing behavior is consistent with the timing of their payment choice. We find substantial evidence of time inconsistency. Namely, more than half of the participants who receive their check straight away instead of waiting 2 weeks for a reasonably larger amount, subsequently take more than 2 weeks to cash it.

Keywords: Procrastination; Impatience; Hyperbolic discounting; Discount rates; Time inconsistency (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D01 D03 D90 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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Working Paper: Procrastination and Impatience (2008) Downloads
Working Paper: Procrastination and Impatience (2007) Downloads
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