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A Theoretically-Consistent Empirical Non-Expected Utility Model of Ambiguity: Nuclear Waste Mortality Risk and Yucca Mountain

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  • Riddel, Mary C.
  • Shaw, W. Douglass

Abstract

Risk aversion is well established in the health and safety literature, and ambiguity is addressed in theoretical and experimental economics literature, but few theoretically-consistent empirical models addressing the relationship between ambiguity, risk, and preferences exist. Even fewer address ambiguity about health or mortality risks. To fill this gap, we propose a theoretical non-expected-utility model (NEUM) that is relatively easy to estimate. The NEUM we develop hinges upon two sources of variability, one over risk and the other over uncertainty about the risk. The model, like the second-order probability models of Segal (1987) and Quiggin (1982), grounds ambiguity in the compound lottery context. However, our model differs from previous approaches by assuming that the moments of the subjective-risk distribution drive preferences through the utility function rather than via the usual probability weights. Moreover, the model allows for heterogeneity in information sets and/or personal characteristics thereby offering individual-specific estimates of utility and the value of welfare changes. Using data from a survey of Nevada residents concerning risks from high-level nuclear-waste transport, we explore heterogeneity in the moments of their subjective-risk distributions. Next, we estimate the ex-ante value of those risks as a function of the moments of the subjective-risk distribution. Our findings suggest that negative externalities associated with nuclear-waste transport based on perceived risks may be quite substantial. We also find that uncertainty about the program clouds individuals' understanding of the risks, and that ambiguity significantly influences choices and values

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Texas A&M University, Department of Agricultural Economics in its series Pre-Prints with number 23964.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ags:tamupp:23964

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Postal: College Station, TX 77849-2124
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Web page: http://agecon.tamu.edu/
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Keywords: Environmental Economics and Policy; Risk and Uncertainty;

References

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  1. Sujoy Mukerji & Jean-Marc Tallon, 2001. "Ambiguity Aversion and Incompleteness of Financial Markets," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00174539, HAL.
  2. W. Viscusi & Harrell Chesson, 1999. "Hopes and Fears: the Conflicting Effects of Risk Ambiguity," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 157-184, October.
  3. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  4. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  5. Riddel, Mary C. & Shaw, W. Douglass, 2002. "Option Wealth And Bequest Values: The Value Of Protecting Future Generations From The Health Risks Of Nuclear Waste Storage," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19662, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  6. Machina, Mark J & Schmeidler, David, 1992. "A More Robust Definition of Subjective Probability," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 745-80, July.
  7. Viscusi, W Kip, 1989. " Prospective Reference Theory: Toward an Explanation of the Paradoxes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 235-63, September.
  8. Ermisch, John F. & Jenkins, Stephen P., 1999. "Retirement and housing adjustment in later life: evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 311-333, June.
  9. Segal, Uzi, 1987. "The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 175-202, February.
  10. Chris Starmer, 2000. "Developments in Non-expected Utility Theory: The Hunt for a Descriptive Theory of Choice under Risk," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 332-382, June.
  11. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  12. Harless, David W & Camerer, Colin F, 1994. "The Predictive Utility of Generalized Expected Utility Theories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1251-89, November.
  13. EECKHOUDT, Louis & HAMMITT, James, . "Does risk aversion increase the value of mortality risk?," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1698, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Corso, Phaedra S & Hammitt, James K & Graham, John D, 2001. " Valuing Mortality-Risk Reduction: Using Visual Aids to Improve the Validity of Contingent Valuation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 165-84, September.
  15. Mark J Machina, 1982. ""Expected Utility" Analysis without the Independence Axiom," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7650, David K. Levine.
  16. Kahn, Barbara E & Sarin, Rakesh K, 1988. " Modeling Ambiguity in Decisions under Uncertainty," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 265-72, September.
  17. Machina, Mark J, 1987. "Choice under Uncertainty: Problems Solved and Unsolved," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 121-54, Summer.
  18. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  19. Gawande, Kishore & Jenkins-Smith, Hank, 2001. "Nuclear Waste Transport and Residential Property Values: Estimating the Effects of Perceived Risks," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 207-233, September.
  20. W. Kip Viscusi, 1994. "Mortality Effects of Regulatory Costs and Policy Evaluation Criteria," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 94-109, Spring.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Cerroni, Simone & Notaro, Sandra & Shaw, W. Douglass, 2011. "Real Monetary Incentives and Chained Questions: An Experimental Study Investigating the Validity of Risk Estimates Elicited via Exchangeability Method," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114313, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  2. Cerroni, Simone & Notaro, Sandra & Shaw, W. Douglass, 2012. "Eliciting and estimating valid subjective probabilities: An experimental investigation of the exchangeability method," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 201-215.
  3. Nguyen, To N. & Shaw, W. Douglass & Woodward, Richard T. & Paterson, Robert & Boyle, Kevin, 2007. "An empirical study of option prices for hunting permits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2-3), pages 476-484, August.
  4. Cerroni, Simone & Notaro, Sandra & Shaw, W. Douglass, 2012. "The validity of risk estimates elicited via the Exchangeability Method: An experimental investigation of consumers’ perceived health risks," Congress Papers 124100, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA).
  5. Cerroni, Simone & Notaro, Sandra & Shaw, W. Douglass, 2012. "Do monetary incentives and chained questions affect the validity of risk estimates elicited via the Exchangeability Method? An experimental investigation," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 125468, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  6. Cai, Yongxia & Shaw, W. Douglass & Wu, Ximing, 2008. "Risk Perception and Altruistic Averting Behavior: Removing Arsenic in Drinking Water," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6149, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  7. Nayga, Rodolfo M., Jr. & Shaw, W. Douglass & Silva, Andres, 2006. "The Effect of Risk Presentation on Product Valuation: An Experimental Analysis," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21429, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

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