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Choice and individual welfare

  • Chambers, Christopher P.
  • Hayashi, Takashi

We propose an abstract method of systematically assigning a “rational” ranking to non-rationalizable choice data. Our main idea is that any method of ascribing welfare to an individual as a function of choice is subjective, and depends on the economist undertaking the analysis. We provide a simple example of the type of exercise we propose. Namely, we define an individual welfare functional as a mapping from stochastic choice functions into weak orders. A stochastic choice function (or choice distribution) gives the empirical frequency of choices for any possible opportunity set (framing factors may also be incorporated into the model). We require that for any two alternatives x and y, if our individual welfare functional recommends x over y given two distinct choice distributions, then it also recommends x over y for any mixture of the two choice distributions. Together with some mild technical requirements, such an individual welfare functional must weight every opportunity set and assign a utility to each alternative x which is the sum across all opportunity sets of the weighted probability of x being chosen from the set. It therefore requires us to have a “prior view” about how important or representative a choice of x at a given situation is.

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Paper provided by California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences in its series Working Papers with number 1286.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clt:sswopa:1286
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  1. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 2003. "Inductive Inference: An Axiomatic Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 1-26, January.
  2. Karni, Edi & Schmeidler, David & Vind, Karl, 1983. "On State Dependent Preferences and Subjective Probabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 1021-31, July.
  3. Gilboa, I. & Schmeidler, D., 2001. "A Derivation of Expected Utility Maximization in the Context of a Game," Papers 2001-18, Tel Aviv.
  4. Jose Apesteguia & Miguel Angel Ballester, 2010. "A measure of rationality and welfare," Economics Working Papers 1220, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2014.
  5. Amartya K. Sen, 1971. "Choice Functions and Revealed Preference," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 307-317.
  6. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2007. "Toward Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 464-470, May.
  7. Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2007. "Sequentially Rationalizable Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1824-1839, December.
  8. Green, Jerry & Hojman, Daniel, 2007. "Choice, Rationality and Welfare Measurement," Working Paper Series rwp07-054, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Gil Kalai & Ariel Rubinstein & Ran Spiegler, 2002. "Rationalizing Choice Functions By Multiple Rationales," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2481-2488, November.
  10. Christopher J.Tyson, 2005. "Axiomatic Foundations for Satisficing Behavior," Economics Papers 2005-W03, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  11. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 1996. "Act similarity in case-based decision theory (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 9(1), pages 47-62.
  12. Rubinstein, Ariel & Salant, Yuval, 2006. "A model of choice from lists," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(1), pages 3-17, March.
  13. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 1995. "Case-Based Decision Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 605-639.
  14. Daniel Kahneman & Peter P. Wakker & Rakesh Sarin, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-406.
  15. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
  16. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
  17. Masatlioglu, Yusufcan & Ok, Efe A., 2005. "Rational choice with status quo bias," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 1-29, March.
  18. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2009. "Beyond Revealed Preference: Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 51-104.
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