Exponential‐Growth Bias in Experimental Consumption Decisions

29 Pages Posted: 8 May 2020

See all articles by Joshua Tasoff

Joshua Tasoff

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University

Date Written: January 2020


Exponential‐growth bias (EGB) is the tendency to neglect the power of compounding interest, which has been found to be widespread in the population. A person with EGB will misperceive the intertemporal budget constraint, overestimating lifetime wealth and underestimating the differences in the cost of consumption across periods. We test five comparative static predictions implied by EGB: (1) compound interest will increase consumption when the elasticity of intertemporal substitution is greater than 1; (2) higher interest rates lead to more compounding and hence increase consumption; (3) budget‐neutral delays in income will increase consumption; (4) the person will exhibit a form of dynamic inconsistency that depends solely on the current account balance and is independent of time preferences; and (5) framing the frequency of interest in shorter units increases consumption. We test these predictions using an induced‐value consumption–savings experiment in the laboratory, and find evidence in support of all predictions against the rational benchmark. We consider rules of thumb as alternative hypotheses and find that they cannot explain the results, although they contribute to some findings.

Suggested Citation

Tasoff, Joshua, Exponential‐Growth Bias in Experimental Consumption Decisions (January 2020). Economica, Vol. 87, Issue 345, pp. 52-80, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3595588 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecca.12306

Joshua Tasoff

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University ( email )

150 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.cgu.edu/tasoffj/

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