Taxi Drivers' Response to Cancellations and No-shows: New Evidence for Reference-dependent Preferences

forthcoming in Management Science

53 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2019 Last revised: 16 Oct 2021

See all articles by Duong Hai Long

Duong Hai Long

NUS Business School

Junhong Chu

HKU Business School

Dai Yao

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Date Written: July 7, 2019


We study how daily labor supply responds to unanticipated earnings shocks among Singapore's taxi drivers using a novel identification strategy that makes use of idiosyncratic variation in booking cancellations and passenger no-shows (CNS) that drivers repeatedly receive. The results provide new and more compelling evidence in support of the income-targeting model of labor supply. Not only the average responses on the extensive margin, but also the responses on the intensive margin as well as the heterogeneous response at different income levels and across driver characteristics are all consistent with the income-targeting model. Drivers work longer and earn more per hour following CNS. The CNS effects exhibit a U-shaped pattern, are strongest when cumulative income is close to the average shift income, and become insignificant when the income level is too low or too high. The effects are most pronounced in the first hour of CNS and fade away quickly afterward. Drivers achieve higher productivity by reducing break time, taking more jobs, driving faster, driving to places with more earning opportunities, and having more time with passengers on board. They choose the response strategies that are complementary to their ability and circumstance such as schedule flexibility and potential for productivity improvement: Those with flexible working schedules tend to prolong their shifts further, while those with flexibility in earnings rate tend to increase their subsequent productivity more. Our novel identification strategy strengthens the empirical literature on daily labor supply, while our findings of the heterogeneity effects offer new insights on income-targeting behaviors.

Keywords: Reference-dependent preferences, Income targeting, Negative shocks, Labor supply, Productivity, Taxi drivers

JEL Classification: J22, J24, D91

Suggested Citation

Hai Long, Duong and Chu, Junhong and Yao, Dai, Taxi Drivers' Response to Cancellations and No-shows: New Evidence for Reference-dependent Preferences (July 7, 2019). forthcoming in Management Science , Available at SSRN: or

Duong Hai Long

NUS Business School ( email )

15 Kent Ridge Drive

Junhong Chu (Contact Author)

HKU Business School ( email )

K.K. Leung Building
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
852-39103087 (Phone)


Dai Yao

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University ( email )

Li Ka Shing Tower
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong, Hung Hom, Kowloon M827
+852 27667143 (Phone)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics