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Chapter from: "Free Market Madness: Why Human Nature Is at Odds With Economics - and Why It Matters"
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: 2008
Length: 26 pages

Abstract

It's amazing how frequently we are faced with choices between immediate and delayed gratification. A dieter chooses between the short-term joys of a cupcake and the long-term benefits of losing weight. A young couple decides between the immediate gratification of splurging on an expensive trip or the delayed benefits of investing in retirement. Are such preferences for now or later rational or irrational? Should people be left alone to make such choices, or should society intervene to direct people toward wise long-term behaviors? This chapter considers these questions, and their implications for free market theory. This chapter is excerpted from ‘Free Market Madness: Why Human Nature Is at Odds With Economics - and Why It Matters'.

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Abstract

It's amazing how frequently we are faced with choices between immediate and delayed gratification. A dieter chooses between the short-term joys of a cupcake and the long-term benefits of losing weight. A young couple decides between the immediate gratification of splurging on an expensive trip or the delayed benefits of investing in retirement. Are such preferences for now or later rational or irrational? Should people be left alone to make such choices, or should society intervene to direct people toward wise long-term behaviors? This chapter considers these questions, and their implications for free market theory. This chapter is excerpted from ‘Free Market Madness: Why Human Nature Is at Odds With Economics - and Why It Matters'.

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