Nonparametric Welfare Analysis for Discrete Choice

Jul 2013 | 669

Authors: Debopam Bhattacharya

Abstract: We consider empirical measurement of exact equivalent/compensating variation resulting from price-change of a discrete good, using individual-level data. We show that for binary and multinomial choice, the marginal distributions of EV/CV are nonparametrically point-identified solely from the conditional choice-probabilities, under extremely general preference-distributions. These results hold even when the distribution/dimension of unobserved heterogeneity are neither specified, nor identified and utilities are neither quasi-linear nor parametrically specified. Welfare-distributions can be expressed as closed-form functionals of observable individual choice-probabilities, thus enabling easy computation in applications. Average EV for price-rise equals the change in average consumer-surplus and is smaller than average CV for a normal good. Point-identification fails for ordered choice if the unit-price is identical for all alternatives, thereby providing a connection to Hausman-Newey's (2013) partial identification results for the limiting case of continuous choice.

JEL Codes: D12, D11, C14, C25

Keywords: Multinimial choice, Compensating and equivalent variation, unobserved heterogeneity, unrestricted heterogeneity, deadweight loss

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