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Subjective Expectations: Measurement and Analysis

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Mar 09

When making decisions under uncertainty, economists typically assume that individuals form probabilistic expectations for unknown quantities and maximize expected utility. Probabilistic measurement of expectations in surveys and experimental settings has become a very active area of economic research. The online course (which will be taught over two mornings) will introduce you to recent developments in the measurement and use of data on subjective expectations.

The one day course (taught over two mornings) will cover different methods for the elicitation of subjective expectations through probabilistic questions in surveys or experimental settings, using examples drawn from recent work in this area. The course discusses the different methods used for eliciting such information in both high and low income-countries contexts, the key methodological issues involved, and the open research questions. Several hands-on exercises will be proposed, where students could explore different ways of collecting the data through standard survey software, such as Qualtrics.

The second part of the course will focus on the value of subjective expectations data in the analysis of economic behaviour. Here we will show the way in which expectation data can be used in choice models to understand economic behaviour. Several examples will be discussed from the recent literature in economics, focusing on educational choices and choice related to risky behaviours.

The course covers:

  • Methods for eliciting subjective expectations in surveys or field experiments in high and low-income countries
  • How subjective expectations data is used to understand individual’s choices using econometric models
  • Recent applications to the analysis of educational choices or risky behaviours

By the end of the course participants will:

  • Have an understanding of why subjective expectations data are valuable for the study of several types of economic decisions
  • Be familiar with recent papers in economics which have used subjective expectations data to model economic behaviour in different contexts
  • Acquire some basic experience of eliciting subjective expectations using standard survey software

This course is aimed at PhD students, researchers and analysts interested in understanding recent developments in the collection and use of data on subjective expectations. Researchers who design surveys might be particularly interested in the different ways in which subjective expectations can be measured.


Some prior knowledge of discrete choice models is advisable.  The course will make use of Qualtrics, no prior knowledge of this software is required.

Preparatory Reading

  • Armantier, Olivier and Bruine de Bruin, Wändi and Potter, Simon and van der Klaauw, H. Wilbert and Topa, Giorgio and Zafar, Basit, 2013 “Measuring Inflation Expectations”, Annual Review of Economics, 5, 273-301
  • Delavande, Adeline, 2011:  “Measuring Subjective Expectations in Developing Countries: A Critical Review and New Evidence” with Xavier Gine and David McKenzie, Journal of Development Economics, 94, 151–163
  • Manski, Charles, 2004: “Measuring Expectations”. Econometrica, 72, 1329–1376

The fee per teaching day is:

  • £30 per day for UK/EU registered students
  • £60 per day for staff at UK/EU academic institutions, UK/EU Research Councils researchers, UK/EU public sector staff, staff at UK/EU registered charity organisations and recognised UK/EU research institutions.
  • £100 per day for all other participants


Event information
09/03/2021 - 10/03/2021
NCRM, University of Southampton