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Complex Decision Making: The Roles of Cognitive Limitations, Cognitive Decline and Ageing

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  • Michael P. Keane

    () (University of Oxford and University of South Wales)

  • Susan Thorp

    () (The University of Sydney)

Abstract

We review evidence on decision making in complex choice situations – i.e., situations where there are many alternatives and/or where attributes of alternatives are difficult to understand. We focus on choices about health insurance, health care, and retirement planning, all of which are very important for the well-being of the elderly. Our review suggests that consumers in general, and the elderly in particular, have great difficulty making optimal choices in these areas. They often behave in ways that imply a high degree of “confusion,” such as (i) failure to understand key attributes of alternatives, or (ii) inadequate cognitive capacity to process payoff relevant information. We go on to discuss extensions to standard rational choice models that account for consumer confusion. These include allowing perceived attributes to depart from true attributes; the use of heuristics; and inattention or procrastination. Such departures from rationality can be moderated by cognitive ability, age etc. We hope that these new models may be useful in designing paternalistic interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael P. Keane & Susan Thorp, 2016. "Complex Decision Making: The Roles of Cognitive Limitations, Cognitive Decline and Ageing," Economics Papers 2016-W10, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:nuf:econwp:1610
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    Cited by:

    1. Paula Cristina Albuquerque, 2017. "Information intermediaries in the social care market for the older population," Working Papers Department of Economics 2017/17, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Aging; Life cycle; Health insurance; Health care; Pensions; Retirement plans; Discrete choice models;

    JEL classification:

    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions

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