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Indiana University Bloomington

Doctoral Programs

1960 Notable

From 1960-2013, we prepared nearly 1,200 men and women
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Book Chapters

Defining the Mean-Preserving Spread: 3-pt versus 4-pt

1992,

Eric Bennett Rasmusen, Emmanuel Petrakis

Abstract

The standard way to define a mean-preserving spread is in terms of changes in the probability at four points of a distribution (Rothschild and Stiglitz [1970]). Our alternative definition is in terms of changes in the probability at just three points. Any 4-pt mean- preserving spread can be constructed from two 3-pt mean-preserving spreads, and any 3-pt mean-preserving spread can be constructed from two 4-pt mean- preserving spreads. The 3-pt definition is simpler and more often applicable. It also permits easy rectification of a mistake in the Rothschild-Stiglitz proof that adding a mean- preserving spread is equivalent to other measures of increasing risk.

Citation

Rasmusen, Eric Bennett and Emmanuel Petrakis (1992), "Defining the Mean-Preserving Spread: 3-pt versus 4-pt," in John Geweke (ed.), Decision Making under Risk and Uncertainty: New Models and Empirical Findings, Amsterdam: Kluwer.