Present Bias and Collective Dynamic Choice in the Lab
Matthew O. Jackson
Stanford University - Department of Economics; Santa Fe Institute; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)
California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences
February 12, 2014
We study collective decisions by time-discounting individuals choosing a common consumption stream. We show that with any heterogeneity in time preferences, utilitarian aggregation necessitates a present bias. In lab experiments three quarters of `social planners' exhibited present biases, and less than two percent were time consistent. Roughly a third of subjects acted as if they were pure utilitarians, and the rest chose as if they also had varying degrees of distributional concerns.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: collective decisions, time inconsistency, collective utility functions, consumption plans, representative agents, voting, voting rules, majority voting, transitivity, hyperbolic discounting, present bias
JEL Classification: D72, D71, D03, D11, E24
Date posted: October 13, 2012 ; Last revised: April 12, 2014
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