On the Interaction of Memory and Procrastination: Implications for Reminders

32 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2014

See all articles by Keith M. Marzilli Ericson

Keith M. Marzilli Ericson

Boston University - Markets, Public Policy, and Law; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 2014

Abstract

I examine the interaction between present-bias and limited memory. Individuals in the model must choose when and whether to complete a task, but may forget or procrastinate. Present-bias expands the effect of memory: it induces delay and limits take-up of reminders. Cheap reminder technology can bound the cost of limited memory for time-consistent individuals but not for present-biased individuals, who procrastinate on setting up reminders. Moreover, while improving memory increases welfare for time-consistent individuals, it may harm present-biased individuals because limited memory can function as a commitment device. Thus, present-biased individuals may be better off with reminders that are unanticipated. Finally, I show how to optimally time the delivery of reminders to present-biased individuals.

Suggested Citation

Ericson, Keith M. Marzilli, On the Interaction of Memory and Procrastination: Implications for Reminders (August 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20381. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2482144

Keith M. Marzilli Ericson (Contact Author)

Boston University - Markets, Public Policy, and Law ( email )

Boston, MA
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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