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Age Effects and Heuristics in Decision Making

  • Tibor Besedes
  • Cary Deck
  • Sudipta Sarangi
  • Mikhael Shor

Using controlled experiments, we examine how individuals make choices when faced with multiple options. Choice tasks are designed to mimic the selection of health insurance, prescription drug, or retirement savings plans. In our experiment, available options can be objectively ranked allowing us to examine optimal decision making. First, the probability of a person selecting the optimal option declines as the number of options increases, with the decline being more pronounced for older subjects. Second, heuristics differ by age with older subjects relying more on suboptimal decision rules. In a heuristics validation experiment, older subjects make worse decisions than younger subjects.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.359331.de/dp1047.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 1047.

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Length: 32 , Anh. p.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1047
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  1. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Richard G. Frank, 2004. "Behavioral Economics and Health Economics," NBER Working Papers 10881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  4. Emmanuel Saez & Esther Duflo, 2003. "The role of information and social interactions in retirement plan decisions: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00141, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Kovalchik, Stephanie & Camerer, Colin F. & Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R. & Allman, John M., 2005. "Aging and decision making: a comparison between neurologically healthy elderly and young individuals," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 79-94, September.
  6. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2010. "Mind the Gap! Consumer Perceptions and Choices of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 413-481 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Colin F. Camerer & Howard Kunreuther, 1989. "Decision processes for low probability events: Policy implications," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 565-592.
  8. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 2002. "How Much Is Investor Autonomy Worth?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(4), pages 1593-1616, 08.
  9. Cole, Catherine A & Balasubramanian, Siva K, 1993. " Age Differences in Consumers' Search for Information: Public Policy Implications," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 157-69, June.
  10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521438834 is not listed on IDEAS
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