Don’t Ignore Inflation Ignorance: An Experimental Analysis of the Degree of Money Illusion in Individual Decision Making
61 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2019 Last revised: 12 Apr 2021
Date Written: July 2, 2019
Money illusion refers to the tendency to evaluate economic transactions in nominal rather than real terms. One manifestation of this phenomenon is the tendency to neglect future inflation in intertemporal investment decisions. Empirical evidence for this “inflation ignorance” is hard to establish due to the host of factors that simultaneously change with the inflation rate. We avoid these identification issues by conducting a controlled and fully incentivized investment experiment. We measure a substantial degree of money illusion and show that it is not driven by lacking diligence, arithmetic problems, or misunderstandings of inflation. Instead, participants seem to anchor subconsciously to nominal returns, even though they are unambiguously incentivized to base their decisions on real returns only. Our findings contribute towards understanding various anomalies on the individual and market level, such as insufficient savings efforts or equity mispricing.
Keywords: Money illusion, financial decision making, asset allocation.
JEL Classification: C91, D11, D14, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation