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Model selection and multiple research goals: The case of rational addiction

  • Andrew Yuengert
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    A comparison of rational addiction and time inconsistency models of addiction highlights the complexities of model selection when researchers have goals in addition to empirical fit. Although currently the two models of addiction are underdetermined by data, each offers a different understanding of addiction; moreover, the two models offer starkly different policy implications. When the goals of understanding and policy usefulness are added to the goal of empirical fit, a more complex account of model selection is needed. First, the principle of parsimony loses some of its force when researchers also value understanding and policy usefulness. Second, when economists value understanding as well as pure prediction, a broader justification of the realism of assumptions becomes possible. Third, because radically different policy advice flows from these empirically equivalent models, this literature underscores the difficulty of separating the seemingly positive analysis of consumer behavior from normative analysis.

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    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13501780600566412
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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 77-96

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:13:y:2006:i:1:p:77-96
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    1. Dockner, Engelbert J & Feichtinger, Gustav, 1993. "Cyclical Consumption Patterns and Rational Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 256-63, March.
    2. Hirschman, Albert O., 1985. "Against Parsimony: Three Easy Ways of Complicating some Categories of Economic Discourse," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 7-21, April.
    3. Orphanides, Athanasios & Zervos, David, 1995. "Rational Addiction with Learning and Regret," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 739-58, August.
    4. H. M. Shefrin & Richard Thaler, 1977. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," NBER Working Papers 0208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Becker, Gary S & Grossman, Michael & Murphy, Kevin M, 1994. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 396-418, June.
    6. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    7. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    8. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    9. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
    10. Winston, Gordon C., 1980. "Addiction and backsliding : A theory of compulsive consumption," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 295-324, December.
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