Procrastination and the non-monotonic effect of deadlines on task completion

Stephen Knowles, Maroš Servátka*, Trudy Sullivan, Murat Genç

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


We conduct a field experiment to test the non-monotonic effect of deadline length on task completion. Participants are invited to complete an online survey in which a donation goes to charity. They are given either 1 week, 1 month, or no deadline to respond. Responses are lowest for the 1-month deadline and highest when no deadline is specified. No deadline and the 1-week deadline feature a large number of early responses, while providing a 1-month deadline appears to give people permission to procrastinate. If they are inattentive, they might forget to complete the task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-720
Number of pages15
JournalEconomic Inquiry
Issue number2
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • charitable giving
  • charitable tasks
  • deadlines
  • field experiment
  • forgetting
  • inattention
  • procrastination
  • task completion


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