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Complex Decision Making

In: Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging

Author

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  • Keane, M.P.
  • Thorp, S.

Abstract

We review the evidence on decision making in complex choice situations—i.e., situations where there are many alternatives and/or where attributes of alternatives are difficult to understand. We focus on choices about health insurance, health care, and retirement planning, all of which are very important for the well-being of the elderly. Our review suggests that consumers in general, and the elderly in particular, have great difficulty making optimal choices in these areas. They often behave in ways that imply a high degree of “confusion,” such as (i) failure to understand key attributes of alternatives or (ii) inadequate cognitive capacity to process payoff relevant information. We go on to discuss extensions to standard rational choice models that account for consumer confusion. These include allowing perceived attributes to depart from true attributes, the use of heuristics, and inattention or procrastination. Such departures from rationality can be moderated by cognitive ability, age, etc. We hope that these new models may be useful in designing paternalistic interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Keane, M.P. & Thorp, S., 2016. "Complex Decision Making," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 661-709, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hapoch:v1_661
    DOI: 10.1016/bs.hespa.2016.09.001
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    1. Keane, Michael P. & Wasi, Nada, 2016. "How to model consumer heterogeneity? Lessons from three case studies on SP and RP data," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 197-231.
    2. Fabrizio Mazzonna & Franco Peracchi, 2018. "Self-assessed cognitive ability and financial wealth: Are people aware of their cognitive decline?," EIEF Working Papers Series 1808, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Sep 2018.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Aging; Life cycle; Health insurance; Health care; Pensions; Retirement plans; Discrete choice models; I13; I11; J14; J32; H55; D14; D83; D84; D91; C35;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions

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