We study a generalization of the classical monopoly insurance problem under adverse selection (see Stiglitz 1977) where we allow for a random distribution of losses, possibly correlated with the agent's risk parameter that is private information. Our model explains patterns of observed customer behavior and predicts insurance contracts most often observed in practice: these consist of menus of several deductible-premium pairs or menus of insurance with coverage limits–premium pairs. A main departure from the classical insurance literature is obtained here by endowing the agents with risk-averse preferences that can be represented by a dual utility functional (Yaari 1987).
We develop an axiomatic theory of information acquisition that captures the idea of constant marginal costs in information production: the cost of generating two independent signals is the sum of their costs, and generating a signal with probability half costs half its original cost. Together with Blackwell monotonicity and a continuity condition, these axioms determine the cost of a signal up to a vector of parameters. These parameters have a clear economic interpretation and determine the difficulty of distinguishing states.
We study dynamic matching in exchange markets with easy- and hard-to-match agents. A greedy policy, which attempts to match agents upon arrival, ignores the positive externality that waiting agents provide by facilitating future matchings. We prove that the trade-off between a “thicker” market and faster matching vanishes in large markets; the greedy policy leads to shorter waiting times and more agents matched than any other policy. We empirically confirm these findings in data from the National Kidney Registry. Greedy matching achieves as many transplants as commonly used policies (1.8% more than monthly batching) and shorter waiting times (16 days faster than monthly batching).
We study auction design for bidders equipped with non-expected utility preferences that exhibit constant risk aversion (CRA). The CRA class is large and includes loss-averse, disappointment-averse, mean-dispersion, and Yaari's dual preferences as well as coherent and convex risk measures. Any preference in this class displays first-order risk aversion, contrasting the standard expected utility case which displays second-order risk aversion. The optimal mechanism offers “ full-insurance” in the sense that each agent’s utility is independent of other agents’ reports. The seller excludes less types than under risk neutrality and awards the object randomly to intermediate types. Subjecting intermediate types to a risky allocation while compensating them when losing allows the seller to collect larger payments from higher types. Relatively high types are willing to pay more, and their allocation is efficient.
A single seller faces a sequence of buyers with unit demand. The buyers are forward-looking and long-lived. Each buyer has private information about his arrival time and valuation where the latter evolves according to a geometric Brownian motion. Any incentive-compatible mechanism has to induce truth-telling about the arrival time and the evolution of the valuation. We establish that the optimal stationary allocation policy can be implemented by a simple posted price. The truth-telling constraint regarding the arrival time can be represented as an optimal stopping problem which determines the first time at which the buyer participates in the mechanism. The optimal mechanism thus induces progressive participation by each buyer: he either participates immediately or at a future random time.
The drift-diffusion model (DDM) is a model of sequential sampling with diffusion signals, where the decision maker accumulates evidence until the process hits either an upper or lower stopping boundary and then stops and chooses the alternative that corresponds to that boundary. In perceptual tasks, the drift of the process is related to which choice is objectively correct, whereas in consumption tasks, the drift is related to the relative appeal of the alternatives. The simplest version of the DDM assumes that the stopping boundaries are constant over time. More recently, a number of papers have used nonconstant boundaries to better fit the data. This paper provides a statistical test for DDMs with general, nonconstant boundaries. As a by-product, we show that the drift and the boundary are uniquely identified. We use our condition to nonparametrically estimate the drift and the boundary and construct a test statistic based on finite samples.