NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do Consumers Exploit Precommitment Opportunities? Evidence from Natural Experiments Involving Liquor Consumption

B. Douglas Bernheim, Jonathan Meer, Neva K. Novarro

NBER Working Paper No. 17762
Issued in January 2012, Revised in October 2015
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

This paper provides evidence concerning the extent to which consumers of liquor employ commitment devices. One widely recommended commitment strategy is to regulate alcohol consumption by deliberately manipulating availability. The paper assesses the prevalence of the “availability strategy” by evaluating the effects of policies that would influence its effectiveness – specifically, changes in allowable Sunday sales hours. It finds that consumers increase their liquor consumption in response to extended Sunday on-premises sales hours, but not in response to extended off-premises sales hours. The latter finding is inconsistent with widespread use of the availability strategy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17762

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