Doing It When Others Do: A Strategic Model of Procrastination
29 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2016
Date Written: June 2016
This paper develops a strategic model of procrastination in which present-biased agents prefer to do an onerous task in the company of someone else. This turns their decision of when to do the task into a procrastination game – a dynamic coordination game between present-biased players. The model characterises the conditions under which interaction mitigates or exacerbates procrastination. Surprisingly, a procrastinator matched with a worse procrastinator may do her task earlier than she otherwise would: she wants to avoid the increased temptation that her peer's company would generate. Procrastinators can thus use bad company as a commitment device to mitigate their self-control problem. Principals can reduce procrastination by matching procrastinators with each other, but the efficient matching may not be stable.
JEL Classification: C72, C73, D03, D91
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