Article

Apparent age and gender differences in survival optimism: To what extent are they a bias in the translation of beliefs onto a percentage scale?

Citation

Comerford DA (2021) Apparent age and gender differences in survival optimism: To what extent are they a bias in the translation of beliefs onto a percentage scale?. Judgment and Decision Making, 16 (4), pp. 1072-1096. http://journal.sjdm.org/21/210219/jdm210219.html

Abstract
A standard way to elicit expectations asks for the percentage chance an event will occur. Previous research demonstrates noise in reported percentages. The current research models a bias; a five percentage point change in reported probabilities implies a larger change in beliefs at certain points in the probability distribution. One contribution of my model is that it can parse bias in beliefs from biases in reports. I reconsider age and gender differences in Subjective Survival Probabilities (SSPs). These are generally interpreted as differences in survival beliefs, e.g., that males are more optimistic than females and older respondents are more optimistic than younger respondents. These demographic differences (in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) can be entirely explained by reporting bias. Older respondents are no more optimistic than younger respondents and males are no more optimistic than females. Similarly, in forecasting, information is obscured by taking reported percentages at face value. Accounting for reporting bias thus better exploits the private information contained in reports. Relative to a face-value specification, a specification that does this delivers improved forecasts of mortality events, raising the pseudo R-squared from less than 3 percent to over 6 percent.

Keywords
subjective probabilities; subjective survival probabilities; expectations; gender differences; survey biases

Journal
Judgment and Decision Making: Volume 16, Issue 4

StatusPublished
Publication date31/07/2021
Publication date online30/06/2021
Date accepted by journal01/06/2021
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/33037
Publisher URLhttp://journal.sjdm.org/21/210219/jdm210219.html
ISSN1930-2975