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Rules of Thumb versus Dynamic Programming

  • Harald Uhlig
  • Martin Lettau

This paper studies decisionmaking with rules of thumb in the context of dynamic decision problems and compares it to dynamic programming. A rule is a fixed mapping from a subset of states into actions. Rules are compared by averaging over past experiences. This can lead to favoring rules which are only applicable in good states. Correcting this good state bias requires solving the dynamic program. The authors provide a general framework and characterize the asymptotic properties. They apply it to provide a candidate explanation for the sensitivity of consumption to transitory income.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.89.1.148
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 89 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 148-174

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:89:y:1999:i:1:p:148-174
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.89.1.148
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  1. Robert E. Hall & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1980. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," NBER Working Papers 0505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Ellison, Glenn & Fudenberg, Drew, 1992. "Rules of Thumb for Social Learning," IDEI Working Papers 17, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  13. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-02, McMaster University.
  14. Binmore, Kenneth G. & Samuelson, Larry, 1992. "Evolutionary stability in repeated games played by finite automata," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 278-305, August.
  15. Krusell, Per & Smith, Anthony Jr., 1996. "Rules of thumb in macroeconomic equilibrium A quantitative analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 527-558, April.
  16. Campbell, John Y & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(3), pages 265-79, July.
  17. Lusardi, Annamaria, 1996. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption: Evidence from Two Panel Data Sets," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(1), pages 81-90, January.
  18. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
  19. David Easley & Aldo Rustichini, 1999. "Choice without Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(5), pages 1157-1184, September.
  20. Borgers, Tilman, 1996. "On the Relevance of Learning and Evolution to Economic Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1374-85, September.
  21. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
  22. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Day, Richard H & Morley, Samuel A & Smith, Kenneth R, 1974. "Myopic Optimizing and Rules of Thumb in a Micro-Model of Industrial Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(1), pages 11-23, March.
  24. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1994. "The importance of precautionary motives in explaining individual and aggregate saving," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 59-125, June.
  25. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
  26. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  27. Stephen Johnson & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & William Samuelson, 1987. "Can People Compute? An Experimental Test of the Life Cycle Consumption Model," NBER Working Papers 2183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Berk, Jonathan B & Hughson, Eric & Vandezande, Kirk, 1996. "The Price Is Right, but Are the Bids? An Investigation of Rational Decision Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 954-70, September.
  29. Ingram, Beth Fisher, 1990. "Equilibrium Modeling of Asset Prices: Rationality versus Rules of Thumb," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 115-25, January.
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