Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Cognition and Wealth: The Importance of Probabilistic Thinking

Contents:

Author Info

  • Lee Lillard
  • Robert J. Willis

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

This paper utilizes a large set of subjective probability questions from the Health and Retirement Survey to construct an index measuring the precision of probabilistic beliefs (PPB) and relates this index to household choices about the riskiness of their portfolios and the rate of growth of their net worth. A theory of uncertainty aversion based on repeated sampling is proposed that resolves the Ellsberg Paradox within a conventional expected utility model. In this theory, uncertainty aversion is implied by risk aversion. This theory is then used to propose a link between an individual’s degree of uncertainty and his propensity to give “focal” answers of “0”, “50_50” or “100” or “exact” answers to survey questions and the validity of this interpretation is tested empirically. Finally, an index of the precision of probabilistic thinking is constructed by calculating the fraction of probability questions to which each HRS respondent gives a non-focal answer. This index is shown to have a statistically and economically significant positive effect on the fraction of risky assets in household portfolios and on the rate of growth of these assets longitudinally. These results suggest that there is systematic variation in the competence of individuals to manage investment accounts that should be considered in designing policies to create individual retirement accounts in the Social Security system.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp007.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp007.

as in new window
Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp007

Contact details of provider:
Postal: P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: (734) 615-0422
Fax: (734) 647-4575
Email:
Web page: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/papers/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. James J. Heckman & Robert J. Willis, 1975. "A Beta-Logistic Model for the Analysis of Sequential Labor Force Participation by Married Women," NBER Working Papers 0112, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lee A. Lillard & Robert J. Willis, 1976. "Dynamic Aspects of Earnings Mobility," NBER Working Papers 0150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Smith, J-P, 1997. "Inheritances and Bequests," Papers 97-04, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  4. Arulampalam, W. & Robin A. Naylor & Jeremy P. Smith, 2002. "University of Warwick," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 9, Royal Economic Society.
  5. Johnson, William R, 1978. "A Theory of Job Shopping," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 261-78, May.
  6. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  7. James M. Poterba & David A. Wise, 1998. "Individual Financial Decisions in Retirement Saving Plans and the Provision of Resources for Retirement," NBER Chapters, in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 363-401 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Willis, Robert J., 1999. "Theory confronts data: how the HRS is shaped by the economics of aging and how the economics of aging will be shaped by the HRS," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 119-145, June.
  9. 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.
  10. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  11. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Who is “Behavioral”? Cognitive Ability and Anomalous Preferences," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001334, David K. Levine.
  2. Adeline Delavande & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2009. "Subjective expectations in the context of HIV/AIDS in Malawi," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(31), pages 817-875, June.
  3. Post, Thomas & Hanewald, Katja, 2013. "Longevity risk, subjective survival expectations, and individual saving behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 200-220.
  4. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2010. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1238-60, June.
  5. Gábor Kézdi & Robert J. Willis, 2003. "Who Becomes a Stockholder? Expectations, SUbjective Uncertainty, and Asset Allocation," Working Papers wp039, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  6. Aylit Tina Romm, 2012. "Retirement Date Effects on Pre-Retirement Wealth Accumulation: An Analysis of US Households," Working Papers 266, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  7. Adeline Delavande & Susann Rohwedder, 2008. "Differential Mortality in Europe and the U.S.: Estimates Based on Subjective Probabilities of Survival," Working Papers 613, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  8. Claudia R. Sahm, 2007. "Stability of risk preference," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-66, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Adeline Delavande & Susann Rohwedder, 2008. "Eliciting Subjective Expectations in Internet Surveys," Working Papers 589, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  10. Todd Elder, 2007. "Subjective Survival Probabilities in the Health and Retirement Study: Systematic Biases and Predictive Validity," Working Papers wp159, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  11. Steven Haider & Mel StephensJr., 2006. "How Accurate are Expected Retirement Savings?," Working Papers wp128, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  12. Andrew M. Parker & Leandro S. Carvalho & Susann Rohwedder, 2013. "Cognitive Ability, Expectations, and Beliefs about the Future: Psychological Influences on Retirement Decisions," Working Papers wp298, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  13. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & Steven Laufer & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2007. "The Joy of Giving or Assisted Living? Using Strategic Surveys to Separate Bequest and Precautionary Motives," NBER Working Papers 13105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Andrew Parker & Jürgen Maurer, 2011. "Assessing small non-zero perceptions of chance: The case of H1N1 (swine) flu risks," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 145-159, April.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp007. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (MRRC Administrator).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.