NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Present-Bias, Procrastination and Deadlines in a Field Experiment

Alberto Bisin, Kyle Hyndman

NBER Working Paper No. 19874
Issued in January 2014, Revised in April 2018
NBER Program(s):Children, Economics of Education

We study procrastination in the context of a field experiment involving students who must exert costly effort to complete certain tasks by a fixed deadline. Descriptively, we document a strong demand for commitment, in the form of self-imposed deadlines, which appear to be associated with students' self-reported psychological characteristics and cost of time. We structurally estimate students' present-bias and cost of time by fitting the experimental data to a stylized stopping time choice model. We find that present-bias is relatively widespread but that having multiple repeated tasks appears to activate effective internal self-control mechanisms. Finally, we also document an important form of partial naïveté on the part of students in anticipating their ability to self-control when setting deadlines.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19874

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