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Elliptical Symmetry, Expected Utility, And Mean-Variance Analysis


  • Nelson, Carl H.
  • Ndjeunga, Jupiter


Mean-variance analysis in the form of risk programming has a long, productive history in agricultural economics research. And risk programming continues to be used despite well known theoretical results that choices based on mean-variance analysis are not consistent with choices based on expected utility maximization. This paper demonstrates that the multivariate distribution of returns used in risk programming must be elliptically symmetric in order for mean-variance analysis to be consistent with expected utility choices. Then a statistical test for elliptical symmetry is developed and demonstrated. This test enables researchers to determine when data will produce significant differences between risk programming choices and expected utility choices.

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  • Nelson, Carl H. & Ndjeunga, Jupiter, 1997. "Elliptical Symmetry, Expected Utility, And Mean-Variance Analysis," ACE Reports 14795, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uiucar:14795

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandmo, Agnar, 1971. "On the Theory of the Competitive Firm under Price Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 65-73, March.
    2. Meyer, Jack & Rasche, Robert H, 1992. "Sufficient Conditions for Expected Utility to Imply Mean-Standard Deviation Rankings: Empirical Evidence Concerning the Location and Scale Condition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(410), pages 91-106, January.
    3. Robert N. Collender & David Zilberman, 1985. "Land Allocation under Uncertainty for Alternative Specifications of Return Distributions," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 67(4), pages 779-786.
    4. James A. Chalfant & Robert N. Collender & Shankar Subramanian, 1990. "The Mean and Variance of the Mean-Variance Decision Rule," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 72(4), pages 966-974.
    5. Meyer, Jack, 1987. "Two-moment Decision Models and Expected Utility Maximization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 421-430, June.
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