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An Economic Theory of Self-Control

H. M. Shefrin and Richard Thaler

No 208, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Although many economists, most notably Strotz, have discussed dynamic inconsistency and precommitment, none have dealt directly with the essence of the problem: self-control. This paper attempts to fill that gap by modeling man as an organization. The Strotz model is recast to include the control features missing in his formulation. The organizational analogy permits us to draw on the theory of agency. We thus relate the individual's control problems with those that exist in agency relationships.

Date: 1977-10
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Published as Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.

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