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BIRS Workshop Lecture Videos

Unobserved Preference Heterogeneity in Demand Using Generalized Random Coefficients Lewbel, Arthur


We model unobserved preference heterogeneity in demand systems as random Barten scales in utility functions. These Barten scales appear as random coefficients multiplying prices in demand functions. Consumer demands are nonlinear in prices and may have unknown functional structure. We therefore prove identification of additive Generalized Random Coefficients models, defined as additive nonparametric regressions where each regressor is multiplied by an unobserved random coefficient having an unknown distribution. Using Canadian data, we estimate energy demand functions with and without random coefficient Barten scales. We find that not accounting for this unobserved preference heterogeneity substantially biases estimated consumer-surplus costs of an energy tax.

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