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Evaluation of Subjective Probability Distributions in the HRS

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  • Michael D. Hurd
  • Kathleen McGarry

Abstract

In the Health and Retirement Survey respondents were asked about the chances they would live to 75 or to 85, and the chances they would work after age 62 or 65. We analyze the responses to determine if they behave like probabilities, if their averages are close to average probabilities in the population, and if they have correlations with other variables that are similar to correlations with actual outcomes. We find that generally they do behave like probabilities and they do aggregate. Most remarkable, however, is that they covary with other variables in the same way actual outcomes vary with the variables. For example, smokers give lower probabilities of living to 75 than nonsmokers. We conclude that these measures of subjective probabilities have great potential use in models of intertemporal decision making under uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 1993. "Evaluation of Subjective Probability Distributions in the HRS," NBER Working Papers 4560, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4560
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    1. Michael D. Hurd, 1993. "The Effect of Labor Market Rigidities on the Labor Force Behavior of Older Workers," NBER Working Papers 4462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aylit T. Romm, 2012. "Retirement Date Effects on Pre-Retirement Wealth Accumulation: An Analysis of US Households," Working Papers 266, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    2. Guan Gong & Anthony Webb, 2008. "Mortality Heterogeneity and the Distributional Consequences of Mandatory Annuitization," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 75(4), pages 1055-1079, December.
    3. Meglena Jeleva, 2005. "Croyances de survie et choix de contrat d'assurance décès une étude empirique," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 71(1), pages 95-116.
    4. Tomas Philipson & John Cawley, 1999. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 827-846, September.
    5. J. Dominitz & C. F. Manski, "undated". "Using expectations data to study subjective income expectations," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1050-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    6. 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.
    7. Li Gan & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden, 2005. "Individual Subjective Survival Curves," NBER Chapters, in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 377-412, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Shelly J. Lundberg & Jennifer Ward-Batts, 2000. "Saving for Retirement: Household Bargaining and Household Net Worth," Working Papers wp004, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    9. Michael Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 1993. "The Relationship Between Job Characteristics and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 4558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Orazio P. Attanasio & Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 2000. "Differential Mortality and Wealth Accumulation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(1), pages 1-29.
    11. Meglena JELEVA, 2005. "Croyances de survie et choix de contrat d’assurance décès : une étude empirique," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 2005014, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    12. J. Dominitz & C. F. Manski, "undated". "Perceptions of economic vulnerability: First evidence from the survey of economic expectations," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1069-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    13. Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula & Renata Bottazzi, 2003. "Retirement Expectations and Pension Reforms," CSEF Working Papers 92, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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