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Choice and individual welfare

Listed author(s):
  • Chambers, Christopher P.
  • Hayashi, Takashi

We propose an abstract method of systematically assigning a “rational” ranking to non-rationalizable choice data. Our main idea is that any method of ascribing welfare to an individual as a function of choice is subjective, and depends on the economist undertaking the analysis. We provide a simple example of the type of exercise we propose. Namely, we define an individual welfare functional as a mapping from stochastic choice functions into weak orders. A stochastic choice function (or choice distribution) gives the empirical frequency of choices for any possible opportunity set (framing factors may also be incorporated into the model). We require that for any two alternatives x and y, if our individual welfare functional recommends x over y given two distinct choice distributions, then it also recommends x over y for any mixture of the two choice distributions. Together with some mild technical requirements, such an individual welfare functional must weight every opportunity set and assign a utility to each alternative x which is the sum across all opportunity sets of the weighted probability of x being chosen from the set. It therefore requires us to have a “prior view” about how important or representative a choice of x at a given situation is.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022053112000142
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 147 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 1818-1849

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:147:y:2012:i:5:p:1818-1849
DOI: 10.1016/j.jet.2012.01.013
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

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  1. Daniel Kahneman & Peter P. Wakker & Rakesh Sarin, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-406.
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  9. Masatlioglu, Yusufcan & Ok, Efe A., 2005. "Rational choice with status quo bias," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 1-29, March.
  10. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 2003. "A derivation of expected utility maximization in the context of a game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 172-182, July.
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  12. Amartya K. Sen, 1971. "Choice Functions and Revealed Preference," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 307-317.
  13. Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2007. "Sequentially Rationalizable Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1824-1839, December.
  14. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
  15. Rubinstein, Ariel & Salant, Yuval, 2006. "A model of choice from lists," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(1), pages 3-17, March.
  16. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2009. "Beyond Revealed Preference: Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 51-104.
  17. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2007. "Toward Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 464-470, May.
  18. Karni, Edi & Schmeidler, David & Vind, Karl, 1983. "On State Dependent Preferences and Subjective Probabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 1021-1031, July.
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