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Knight on Risk and Uncertainty


  • LeRoy, Stephen F
  • Singell, Larry D, Jr


It is argued that the received interpretation of Frank Knight's_(1921) classic risk-uncertainty distinction-as concerning whether or not agents have subjective probabilities-constitutes a misreading of Knight. On the contrary, Knight shared the modern view that agents can be assumed always to act as if they have subjective probabilities. The authors document their contention that by uncert ainty Knight instead meant situations in which insurance markets collapse because of moral hazard or adverse selection. Knight's discussion of market failure, a lthough always informal and in placesinaccurate, was in many respects a remarka ble anticipation of the modern literature. Copyright 1987 by University of Chicago Press.

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  • LeRoy, Stephen F & Singell, Larry D, Jr, 1987. "Knight on Risk and Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 394-406, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:95:y:1987:i:2:p:394-406

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    2. B. Douglas Bernheim & Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Bequests as a Means of Payment," NBER Working Papers 1303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Spivak, Avia, 1981. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 372-391, April.
    4. Diamond, P. A. & Hausman, J. A., 1984. "Individual retirement and savings behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 81-114.
    5. Mervyn A. King & Louis Dicks-Mireaux, 1981. "Asset Holdings and the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 0614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Barro, Robert J & Friedman, James W, 1977. "On Uncertain Lifetimes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 843-849, August.
    7. Eytan Sheshinski & Yoram Weiss, 1981. "Uncertainty and Optimal Social Security Systems," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 96(2), pages 189-206.
    8. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Dissaving after Retirement: Testing the Pure Life Cycle Hypothesis," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 237-280 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Wilson, Charles, 1977. "A model of insurance markets with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 167-207, December.
    10. Zvi Eckstein & Martin S. Eichenbaum & Dan Peled, 1985. "The Distribution of Wealth and Welfare in the Presence of Incomplete Annuity Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(3), pages 789-806.
    11. Abel, Andrew B, 1985. "Precautionary Saving and Accidental Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 777-791, September.
    12. King, M A & Dicks-Mireaux, L-D L, 1982. "Asset Holdings and the Life-Cycle," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(366), pages 247-267, June.
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