NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Measuring Self-Control

John Ameriks, Andrew Caplin, John Leahy, Tom Tyler

NBER Working Paper No. 10514
Issued in May 2004
NBER Program(s):   EFG

How significant are individual differences in self-control? Do these differences impact wealth accumulation? From where do they derive? Our survey-based measure of self-control provides insights into all three questions: 1.There are individual differences in self-control not only of a quantitative but also of a qualitative nature. In our sample, standard self-control problems of over-consumption are no more prevalent than are problems of under-consumption. 2.Standard self-control problems do impede wealth accumulation, particularly in liquid form. Problems of under-consumption have the opposite effects. 3.Self-control is linked to conscientiousness' much studied by psychologists. There is a related link with financial planning.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10514

Published: Ameriks, John, Andrew Caplin, John Leahy, and Tom Tyler. "Measuring Self-Control Problems." American Economic Review 97, 3 (June 2007): 966-72.

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