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On the Existence and Interpretation of the "Unit Root" in U.S. GNP

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  • J. Bradford De Long
  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

In this paper, we assess the degree to which four of the most commonly used models of risky decision making can explain the choices individuals make when faced with risky prospects. To make this assessment, we use experimental evidence for two random samples of young adults. Using a robust, nonlinear least squares procedure, we estimate a model that is general enough to approximate Kahnenman and Tversky's prospect theory and that for certain parametric values will yield the expected utility model, a subjective expected utility model and a probability-transform model. We find that the four models considered explain the decision-making behavior of the majority of our subjects. Surprisingly, we find that the choice behavior of the largest number of subjects is consistent with a probability-transform model. Such models have only been developed recently and have not been used in applied settings. We find least support for the expected utility model -- the most widely used model of risky decision making.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "On the Existence and Interpretation of the "Unit Root" in U.S. GNP," NBER Working Papers 2716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2716
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    1. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Quah, Danny, 1989. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 655-673, September.
    2. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1961. "Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn61-1, June.
    4. Matthew Shapiro & Mark Watson, 1988. "Sources of Business Cycles Fluctuations," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1988, Volume 3, pages 111-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1987. "Are Output Fluctuations Transitory?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 857-880.
    6. Schwert, G. William, 1987. "Effects of model specification on tests for unit roots in macroeconomic data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 73-103, July.
    7. Campbell, John Y & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1987. "Permanent and Transitory Components in Macroeconomic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 111-117, May.
    8. Nelson, Charles R., 1988. "Spurious trend and cycle in the state space decomposition of a time series with a unit root," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 475-488.
    9. Harvey, A C, 1985. "Trends and Cycles in Macroeconomic Time Series," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 216-227, June.
    10. Peter K. Clark, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U. S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814.
    11. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
    12. Nathan S. Balke & Robert J. Gordon, 1988. "The Estimation of Prewar GNP: Methodology and New Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Diego Romero-Ávila, 2012. "Multiple trend shifts and unit roots in US state income levels: implications for long-run growth," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 48(3), pages 641-661, June.
    2. M. Matilla-Garcia & P. Perez & B. Sanz, 2006. "Testing for parameter stability: the Spanish consumption function," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(7), pages 445-448.

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