IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Probability Limits: Are Subjective Assessments Adequately Accurate?


  • William F. Bassett
  • Robin L. Lumsdaine


The Health and Retirement Study asks respondents their subjective probabilities about 12 future events. An individual's responses contain a common component that is unrelated to the true probability of the event in question. Use of the entire set of an individual's responses to control for this unobserved individual heterogeneity can improve the information content in responses regarding intergenerational transfer and labor force participation plans. Although there is little overall gain from renormalization, in samples where the respondent may not fully have understood the question adjusting the responses for heterogeneity leads to an improved ability to predict outcomes in later waves.

Suggested Citation

  • William F. Bassett & Robin L. Lumsdaine, 2001. "Probability Limits: Are Subjective Assessments Adequately Accurate?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 327-363.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:36:y:2001:i:2:p:327-363

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: A subscripton is required to access pdf files. Pay per article is available.

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

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1988. "Migration selectivity and the effects of public programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 265-289, December.
    2. Hammer, Jeffrey S, 1997. "Economic Analysis for Health Projects," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 12(1), pages 47-71, February.
    3. Hanushek, Eric A, 1995. "Interpreting Recent Research on Schooling in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 227-246, August.
    4. Cox, Donald & Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1990. "The relative effectiveness of private and public schools : Evidence from two developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 99-121, November.
    5. Kingdon, Geeta, 1996. "The Quality and Efficiency of Private and Public Education: A Case-Study of Urban India," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(1), pages 57-82, February.
    6. Deaton, Angus, 1988. "Quality, Quantity, and Spatial Variation of Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 418-430, June.
    7. Small, Kenneth A & Rosen, Harvey S, 1981. "Applied Welfare Economics with Discrete Choice Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(1), pages 105-130, January.
    8. Joseph A. Herriges & Catherine L. Kling, 1999. "Nonlinear Income Effects in Random Utility Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 62-72, February.
    9. Glick, Peter & Sahn, David E., 2006. "The demand for primary schooling in Madagascar: Price, quality, and the choice between public and private providers," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 118-145, February.
    10. Kim, Jooseop & Alderman, Harold & Orazem, Peter, 1999. "Can Private School Subsidies Increase Schooling for the Poor? The Quetta Urban Fellowship Program," Staff General Research Papers Archive 1709, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    11. Harold Alderman & Jere Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler & John A. Maluccio & Susan Watkins, 2001. "Attrition in Longitudinal Household Survey Data," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 5(4), pages 79-124, November.
    12. Jimenez, Emmanuel & Lockheed, Marlaine E & Paqueo, Vicente, 1991. "The Relative Efficiency of Private and Public Schools in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 6(2), pages 205-218, July.
    13. Gertler, Paul & Glewwe, Paul, 1990. "The willingness to pay for education in developing countries : Evidence from rural Peru," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 251-275, August.
    14. Lee, Lung-Fei, 1983. "Generalized Econometric Models with Selectivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 507-512, March.
    15. Harold Alderman & Jere R. Behrman & David R. Ross & Richard Sabot, 1996. "Decomposing the Gender Gap in Cognitive Skills in a Poor Rural Economy," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 229-254.
    16. Daniel McFadden, 1996. "Computing Willingness-to-Pay in Random Utility Models," Working Papers _011, University of California at Berkeley, Econometrics Laboratory Software Archive.
    17. Kremer, Michael R, 1995. "Research on Schooling: What We Know and What We Don't: A Comment," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 247-254, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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

    Cited by:

    1. Olken, Benjamin A., 2009. "Corruption perceptions vs. corruption reality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 950-964, August.
    2. Engelberg, Joseph & Manski, Charles F. & Williams, Jared, 2009. "Comparing the Point Predictions and Subjective Probability Distributions of Professional Forecasters," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27, pages 30-41.
    3. Erdogan-Ciftci, Esen & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Bago d'Uva, Teresa & van Lenthe, Frank, 2010. "Do self-perceived health changes predict longevity?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(11), pages 1981-1988, December.
    4. Maria G. Perozek, 2005. "Using subjective expectations to forecast longevity: do survey respondents know something we don't know?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-68, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Kristin J. Kleinjans & Jinkook Lee, 2006. "The link between individual expectations and savings: Do nursing home expectations matter?," Economics Working Papers 2006-05, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    6. Hyytinen, Ari & Lahtonen, Jukka & Pajarinen, Mika, 2012. "Entrepreneurial optimism and survival," Research Discussion Papers 20/2012, Bank of Finland.
    7. Li Gan & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden, 2005. "Individual Subjective Survival Curves," NBER Chapters,in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 377-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Michael Moore & Younghwan Song, 2007. "The Effect of Subjective Survival Probabilities on Retirement and Wealth in the United States," Chapters,in: Population Aging, Intergenerational Transfers and the Macroeconomy, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Shaw, W. Douglass, 2016. "Environmental and Natural Resource Economics Decisions Under Risk and Uncertainty: A Survey," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 9(1-2), pages 1-130, July.
    10. Owen O'Donnell & Federica Teppa & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2008. "Can subjective survival expectations explain retirement behaviour?," DNB Working Papers 188, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.

    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:uwp:jhriss:v:36:y:2001:i:2:p:327-363. 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: (). 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.