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Choosing Treatment Policies Under Ambiguity

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  • Charles F. Manski

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208)

Abstract

Economists studying choice with partial knowledge typically assume that the decision maker places a subjective distribution on unknown quantities and maximizes expected utility. Someone lacking a subjective distribution faces a problem of choice under ambiguity. This article reviews recent research on policy choice under ambiguity, when the task is to choose treatments for a population. Ambiguity arises when a planner has partial knowledge of treatment response and does not feel able to place a subjective distribution on the unknowns. I first discuss dominance and alternative criteria for choice among undominated policies. I then illustrate with the choice of a vaccination policy by a planner who has partial knowledge of the effect of vaccination on illness. I next study a class of problems in which a planner may want to cope with ambiguity by diversification, assigning observationally identical persons to different treatments. Lastly, I consider a setting in which a planner should not diversify treatment.

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File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-economics-061109-080359
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Annual Reviews in its journal Annual Review of Economics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (09)
Pages: 25-49

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Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:3:y:2011:p:25-49

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Related research

Keywords: dominance; minimax regret; partial identification; planning; social choice; treatment response;

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Cited by:
  1. Berger, Loïc & Bleichrodt, Han & Eeckhoudt, Louis, 2013. "Treatment decisions under ambiguity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 559-569.
  2. Hahn, Jinyong & Ridder, Geert & Snider, Connan, 2013. "Partial identification and mergers," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 126-129.
  3. repec:bos:wpaper:wp2013-001 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Charles F. Manski, 2012. "Choosing Size of Government Under Ambiguity: Infrastructure Spending and Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 18204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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