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Dynamic Random Utility

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Abstract

We provide an axiomatic analysis of dynamic random utility, characterizing the stochastic choice behavior of agents who solve dynamic decision problems by maximizing some stochastic process (U_t) of utilities. We show ?rst that even when (U_t) is arbitrary, dynamic random utility imposes new testable restrictions on how behavior across periods is related, over and above period-by-period analogs of the static random utility axioms: An important feature of dynamic random utility is that behavior may appear history dependent, because past choices reveal information about agents’ past utilities and (U_t) may be serially correlated; however, our key new axioms highlight that the model entails speci?c limits on the form of history dependence that can arise. Second, we show that when agents’ choices today influence their menu tomorrow (e.g., in consumption-savings or stopping problems), imposing natural Bayesian rationality axioms restricts the form of randomness that (U_t) can display. By contrast, a speci?cation of utility shocks that is widely used in empirical work violates these restrictions, leading to behavior that may display a negative option value and can produce biased parameter estimates. Finally, dynamic stochastic choice data allows us to characterize important special cases of random utility—in particular, learning and taste persistence—that on static domains are indistinguishable from the general model.

Suggested Citation

  • Mira Frick & Ryota Iijima & Tomasz Strzalecki, 2017. "Dynamic Random Utility," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2092R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Nov 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:2092r
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    Cited by:

    1. S. Cerreia-Vioglio & F. Maccheroni & M. Marinacci & A. Rustichini, 2017. "Multinomial logit processes and preference discovery: inside and outside the black box," Working Papers 615, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dynamic stochastic choice; Random utility; History dependence; Serially correlated utilities; Consumption persistence; Learning;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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