IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Flexible Approximation of Subjective Expectations Using Probability Questions


  • Charles Bellemare
  • Luc Bissonnette
  • Sabine Kröger


We propose a flexible method to approximate the subjective cumulative distribution function of an economic agent about the future realization of a continuous random variable. The method can closely approximate a wide variety of distributions while maintaining weak assumptions on the shape of distribution functions. We show how moments and quantiles of general functions of the random variable can be computed analytically and/or numerically. We illustrate the method by revisiting the determinants of income expectations in the United States. A Monte Carlo analysis suggests that a quantile-based flexible approach can be used to successfully deal with censoring and possible rounding levels present in the data. Finally, our analysis suggests that the performance of our flexible approach matches that of a correctly specified parametric approach and is clearly better than that of a misspecified parametric approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Bellemare & Luc Bissonnette & Sabine Kröger, 2011. "Flexible Approximation of Subjective Expectations Using Probability Questions," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(1), pages 125-131, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jnlbes:v:30:y:2011:i:1:p:125-131
    DOI: 10.1198/jbes.2011.09053

    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. Huck, Steffen & Schmidt, Tobias & Weizsäcker, Georg, 2014. "The standard portfolio choice problem in Germany," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2014-308, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    2. L. Bissonnette & J. de Bresser, 2018. "Eliciting Subjective Survival Curves: Lessons from Partial Identification," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 505-515, July.
    3. Drerup, Tilman & Enke, Benjamin & von Gaudecker, Hans-Martin, 2014. "Measurement Error in Subjective Expectation and the Empirical Content of Economic Models," MEA discussion paper series 201414, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    4. Fabian Gouret, 2017. "What can we learn from the fifties?," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(7), pages 756-775, November.
    5. Florian Heiss & Michael Hurd & Maarten van Rooij & Tobias Rossmann & Joachim Winter, 2019. "Dynamics and heterogeneity of subjective stock market expectations," DNB Working Papers 640, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    6. Niu, G., 2014. "Essays on subjective expectations and mortality trends," Other publications TiSEM b9f72836-d8ad-478b-adca-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    7. Stefania Basiglio & Mariacristina Rossi & Arthur, 2019. "“Subjective inheritance expectations and economic outcomes”," CeRP Working Papers 190, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
    8. Hillenbrand, Adrian & Winter, Fabian, 2018. "Volunteering under population uncertainty," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 65-81.
    9. Claudia Neri, 2015. "Eliciting beliefs in continuous-choice games: a double auction experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(4), pages 569-608, December.
    10. Markus Eyting & Patrick Schmidt, 2019. "Belief Elicitation with Multiple Point Predictions," Working Papers 1818, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 22 Oct 2019.
    11. Basiglio, Stefania, 2018. "Essays on financial behaviour of households and firms," Other publications TiSEM c13423c5-8bf2-44a7-baa7-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    12. Luc Bissonnette & Arthur van Soest, 2015. "The Financial Crisis and Consumers' Income and Pension Expectations," Cahiers de recherche 1502, Chaire de recherche Industrielle Alliance sur les enjeux économiques des changements démographiques.
    13. Steffen Huck & Tobias Schmidt & Georg Weizsäcker, 2015. "The Standard Portfolio Choice Problem in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 5441, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Adrian Hillenbrand & André Schmelzer, 2015. "Beyond Information: Disclosure, Distracted Attention, and Investor Behavior," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2015_20, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

    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:taf:jnlbes:v:30:y:2011:i:1:p:125-131. 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.