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The Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis

Hersh M Shefrin and Richard Thaler

Economic Inquiry, 1988, vol. 26, issue 4, 609-43

Abstract: Self-control, mental accounting, and framing are incorporated in a behavioral enrichment of the life-cycle theory of saving called the behavioral life-cycle hypothesis. The key assumption of the behavioral life-cycle theory is that households treat components of their wealth as nonfungible, even in the absence of credit rationing. Specifically, wealth is assumed to be divided into three mental accounts: current income, current assets, and future income. The temptation to spend is assumed to be greatest for current income and least for future income. Considerable empirical support for the behavioral life-cycle theory is presented, primarily drawn from published econometric studies. Copyright 1988 by Oxford University Press.

Date: 1988
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