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Life expectancy as a constructed belief: Evidence of a live-to or die-by framing effect

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  • John Payne

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  • Namika Sagara
  • Suzanne Shu
  • Kirstin Appelt
  • Eric Johnson

Abstract

Life expectations are essential inputs for many important personal decisions. We propose that longevity beliefs are responses constructed at the time of judgment, subject to irrelevant task and context factors, and leading to predictable biases. Specifically, we examine whether life expectancy is affected by the framing of expectations questions as either live-to or die-by, as well as by factors that actually affect longevity such as age, gender, and self-reported health. We find that individuals in a live-to frame report significantly higher chances of being alive at ages 55 through 95 than people in a corresponding die-by frame. Estimated mean life expectancies across three studies and 2300 respondents were 7.38 to 9.17 years longer when solicited in a live-to frame. We are additionally able to show how this framing works on a process level and how it affects preference for life annuities. Implications for models of financial decision making are discussed. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • John Payne & Namika Sagara & Suzanne Shu & Kirstin Appelt & Eric Johnson, 2013. "Life expectancy as a constructed belief: Evidence of a live-to or die-by framing effect," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 27-50, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:46:y:2013:i:1:p:27-50
    DOI: 10.1007/s11166-012-9158-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Raphael Schoenle & Kristian Ove Myrseth & Rawley Heimer, 2016. "YOLO: Mortality Beliefs and Household Finance Puzzles," 2016 Meeting Papers 661, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Wu, Shang & Stevens, Ralph & Thorp, Susan, 2015. "Cohort and target age effects on subjective survival probabilities: Implications for models of the retirement phase," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 39-56.
    3. Timothy Riffe & Pil H. Chung & Jeroen Spijker & John MacInnes, 2015. "Time-to-death patterns in markers of age and dependency," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2015-003, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    4. Federica Teppa & Susan Thorp & Hazel Bateman, 2015. "Family, friends and framing: A cross-country study of subjective survival expectations," DNB Working Papers 491, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    5. repec:bla:jrinsu:v:84:y:2017:i:s1:p:319-343 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Rawley Z. Heimer & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Raphael S. Schoenle, 2015. "YOLO: Mortality Beliefs and Household Finance Puzzles," Working Papers 97, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Life Expectancy; Framing Effects; Judgment; Annuities; D03 – Behavioral Economics; D84 – Expectations;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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