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Nonresponse and Focal Point Answers to Subjective Probability Questions


  • Kleinjans, Kristin J.

    () (California State University, Fullerton)

  • van Soest, Arthur

    () (Tilburg University)


We develop and estimate a panel data model explaining the answers to questions about subjective probabilities, using data from the US Health and Retirement Study. We explicitly account for nonresponse, rounding, and focal point “50 percent” answers. Our results indicate that for three of the four questions considered, almost all 50 percent answers can be explained by rounding. We also find observed and unobserved heterogeneity in the tendencies to report rounded values or a focal answer, explaining persistency in 50 percent-answers over time. Incorporating rounding and focal answers changes some of the conclusions about the socio-economic factors that determine expectations.

Suggested Citation

  • Kleinjans, Kristin J. & van Soest, Arthur, 2010. "Nonresponse and Focal Point Answers to Subjective Probability Questions," IZA Discussion Papers 5272, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5272

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. van Soest, Arthur & Hurd, Michael, 2008. "A Test for Anchoring and Yea-Saying in Experimental Consumption Data," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, pages 126-136.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gutierrez, Italo A., 2016. "Job insecurity, unemployment insurance and on-the-job search. Evidence from older American workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 228-245.
    2. Alexander Zimper, 2012. "The emergence of "fifty-fifty" probability judgements in a conditional Savage world," Working Papers 291, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    3. Aylit Tina Romm, 2014. "An interpretation of focal point responses as non-additive beliefs," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 9(5), pages 387-402, September.
    4. Italo A. Gutierrez & Pierre-Carl Michaud, 2017. "Whistle While You Work: Job Insecurity and Older Workers' Mental Health in the United States," Cahiers de recherche 1702, Chaire de recherche Industrielle Alliance sur les enjeux économiques des changements démographiques.
    5. van Santen, Peter & Alessie, Rob & Kalwij, Adriaan, 2012. "Probabilistic survey questions and incorrect answers: Retirement income replacement rates," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 267-280.
    6. Robin L. Lumsdaine & Rogier J.D. Potter van Loon, 2013. "Wall Street vs. Main Street: An Evaluation of Probabilities," NBER Working Papers 19103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    item nonresponse; rounding; expectations;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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