IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Uncertainty: A Typology and Refinements of Existing Concepts


  • David Dequech


The present article proposes a typology of the main varieties of uncertainty considered by economists and refines existing concepts. This typology combines three distinctions, between: substantive and procedural uncertainty; weak and strong uncertainty; and ambiguity and fundamental uncertainty. These concepts refer, or fail to refer, to factors such as: a lack of information; complexity; the (im)possibility of building probability distributions that are unique, additive and reliable; structural change; etc. When refining these concepts, the article pays special attention to the conception of social reality underlying each concept. It refers to what each concept may imply about the complexity and changeability of social reality and the limitations and creative potential of the individuals that inhabit this reality, in addition to, in some cases, the roles of institutions and the features of the process of technological change.

Suggested Citation

  • David Dequech, 2011. "Uncertainty: A Typology and Refinements of Existing Concepts," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(3), pages 621-640.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:45:y:2011:i:3:p:621-640
    DOI: 10.2753/JEI0021-3624450306

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


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

    Cited by:

    1. Aldred, Jonathan, 2013. "Justifying precautionary policies: Incommensurability and uncertainty," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 132-140.
    2. repec:spr:jbuscr:v:13:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s41549-017-0020-y is not listed on IDEAS
    3. David Dequech, 2008. "Varieties of uncertainty: a survey of the economic literature," Anais do XXXVI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 36th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 200807211223070, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    4. Müller, Christian, 2015. "Radical uncertainty: Sources, manifestations and implications," Economics Discussion Papers 2015-41, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    5. repec:gam:jagris:v:6:y:2016:i:1:p:5:d:62486 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. David Dequech, 2016. "Some Institutions (Social Norms And Conventions) Of Contemporary Mainstream Economics, Macroeconomics, And Financial Economics," Anais do XLIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 43rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 006, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    7. Junankar, Pramod N. (Raja), 2016. "On Measuring Uncertainty: Snakes and Ladders," IZA Discussion Papers 10244, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Strachman, Eduardo, 2016. "Notas sobre Mecanismos de Transmissão da Política Monetária
      [Some Notes on the Monetary Policy Transmission Mechanisms]
      ," MPRA Paper 72856, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Annalisa Ferrari & Piergiuseppe Morone & Valentina E. Tartiu, 2016. "Tackling Uncertainty through Business Plan Analysis—A Case Study on Citrus Waste Valorisation in the South of Italy," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-12, January.
    10. Miguel Vazquez, 2018. "Institutional dynamics in an economy seen as a complex adaptive system," IEFE Working Papers 104, IEFE, Center for Research on Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:45:y:2011:i:3:p:621-640. 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: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.