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The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics

Editor-in-Chief: Schipper, Burkhard

Ed. by Fong, Yuk-fai / Peeters, Ronald / Puzzello , Daniela / Rivas, Javier / Wenzelburger, Jan

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Endogenous Preferences and Dynamic Contract Design

Wei Zhang
Published Online: 2012-05-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/1935-1704.1834

People's past decisions often play a significant role in shaping their future preferences. Based on this premise, we propose a model of endogenously changing preferences in an intertemporal environment. The two types of agents are distinguished by their self-knowledge of the dynamically inconsistent preferences. In particular, we study the dynamic contract design problem of a monopolistic principal in this setup. Commitment contracts and spot contracts are contrasted. When types are known to the principal, commitment contracts are superior to spot arrangements. When types are unobservable, we arrive at several unconventional results. First, the first best outcome can still be achieved in the case of commitment contracts. Second, informational externality may extend in both directions when the first best spot contracts are not incentive compatible. Lastly, in the second best spot contracts, informational rent may accrue to both types of agents.

Keywords: endogenous preferences; self-control; dynamic contract design; commitment; endogenous toughening effect; endogenous softening effect

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Published Online: 2012-05-28

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, Volume 12, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1935-1704, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/1935-1704.1834.

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©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

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