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

  • J. Bradford De Long
  • Lawrence H. Summers

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2716.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2716.

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Date of creation: Sep 1988
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2716
Note: EFG
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  1. Clark, Peter K, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U.S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814, November.
  2. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Danny Quah, 1988. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbance," Working papers 497, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Matthew D. Shapiro & Mark W. Watson, 1988. "Sources of Business Cycle Fluctuations," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 870, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Working Papers 1450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1987. "Permanent and Transitory Components in Macroeconomic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 2169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Campbell, John & Mankiw, Gregory, 1987. "Are Output Fluctuations Transitory?," Scholarly Articles 3122545, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Harvey, A C, 1985. "Trends and Cycles in Macroeconomic Time Series," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 216-27, June.
  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. 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.
  10. 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.
  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. 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.
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