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The Effect of Self-Control on Borrowing: Experimental Evidence. No. 264

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Antonia Grohmann, Jana Hamdan

Munich: Collaborative Research Center Transregio 190, 2020, 36 S. : Anh.
(Discussion paper / Rationality & Competition, CRC TRR 190 ; 264)


This paper examines the effect of reduced self-control on debt-taking in a laboratory experiment. We manipulate self-control using an ego depletion task and show that it is effective. Following the ego depletion task, participants can anonymously buy hot drinks on credit. We find no significant average effects, but find that treated individuals that have low financial literacy are more likely to buy drinks. We complement our experimental analysis with survey evidence that suggests that people with low self-control have more problems with the repayment of consumption debt, but this relationship is, in line with the experimental results, weaker for individuals with high financial literacy.

JEL-Classification: D14;G51;C91
Keywords: debt; consumption; borrowing; self-control; ego depletion
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