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How Do Behavioral Assumptions Affect Structural Inference? Evidence From A Laboratory Experiment

  • Daniel Houser
  • Joachim Winter

    ()

    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

We use a laboratory experiment to investigate the effect that assuming rational expectations has on structural inference in a dynamic discrete choice decision problem. Our experimental design induces preferences up to each subject’s subjective rates of time preference, leaving unrestricted only this parameter and the decision rule that the subject uses in solving the problem. We analyze the data under the assumption that all subjects use the rational expectations decision rule, and also under weaker behavioral assumptions that allow for heterogeneity in the way people form decisions. We find no evidence that assuming rational expectations distorts inferences about the cross-sectional distribution of discount rates.

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Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 02005.

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Date of creation: 16 Jan 2002
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Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:02005
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  1. Ellison, Glenn & Fudenberg, Drew, 1993. "Rules of Thumb for Social Learning," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 612-43, August.
  2. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
  3. V. Joseph Hotz & Robert A. Miller, . "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 86-15, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. Krusell, Per & Smith, Anthony Jr., 1996. "Rules of thumb in macroeconomic equilibrium A quantitative analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 527-558, April.
  5. Saul Pleeter & John T. Warner, 2001. "The Personal Discount Rate: Evidence from Military Downsizing Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 33-53, March.
  6. Anderlini, Luca & Canning, David, 2001. "Structural Stability Implies Robustness to Bounded Rationality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 395-422, December.
  7. Cox, James C & Oaxaca, Ronald L, 1999. "Can Supply and Demand Parameters Be Recovered from Data Generated by Market Institutions?," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 17(3), pages 285-97, July.
  8. El-Gamal, Mahmoud A. & Grether, David M., 1995. "Are People Bayesian? Uncovering Behavioral Strategies," Working Papers 919, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  9. Hey, John D., 1981. "Are optimal search rules reasonable? and vice versa? (And does it matter anyway?)," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 47-70, March.
  10. Harald Uhlig & Martin Lettau, 1999. "Rules of Thumb versus Dynamic Programming," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 148-174, March.
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