Probabilistic Expectations in Developing Countries
Posted: 8 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 2014
Many decisions are made under uncertainty, and individuals are likely to form subjective expectations about the probabilities of events that are relevant to their decisions. I review here a recent and growing literature that uses probabilistic expectations elicited from survey respondents in developing countries. I first present an illustrative model of one particular decision under uncertainty — the choice of a college — to exemplify the importance of subjective expectations data for identification purposes. I then review existing evidence emphasizing that it is feasible to elicit probabilities from survey respondents in low-literacy settings and describe common patterns of answers. Finally, I describe existing applications, many of which seek to assess how expectations influence behavior, in various domains, including health, education, agricultural production, and migration.
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