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Costly Information Processing and Income Expectations

Listed author(s):
  • Daniel Gutknecht

    ()

    (Oxford University)

  • Stefan Hoderlein

    (Boston College)

  • Michael Peters

    ()

    (Yale University)

Do individuals use all information at their disposal when forming expectations about future events? In this paper we present an econometric framework to answer this question. We show how individual information sets can be characterized by simple nonparametric exclusion restrictions and provide a quantile based test for costly information processing. In particular, our methodology does not require individuals' expectations to be rational, and we explicitly allow for individuals to have access to sources of information which the econometrician cannot observe. As an application, we use microdata on individual income expectations to study the information agents employ when forecasting future earnings. Consistent with models where information processing is costly, we find that individuals' information sets are coarse in that valuable information is discarded. To quantify the utility costs, we calibrate a standard consumption life-cycle model. Consumers would be willing to pay 0.04% of their permanent income to incorporate the econometrician’s information set in their forecasts. This represents a lower bound on the costs of information processing.

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Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 861.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2014
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:861
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  1. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
  2. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "What Can Survey Forecasts Tell Us about Information Rigidities?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(1), pages 116-159.
  3. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2002. "Sticky Information versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1295-1328.
  4. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2000. "Using subjective income expectations to test for excess sensitivity of consumption to predicted income growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 337-358, February.
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