Combining information about … combining information
Michael R. Powers
Purpose – This editorial aims to consider certain aspects of the parallel development of statistics and actuarial science that are instructive in understanding the value of intellectual cross-fertilization in research. Design/methodology/approach – The paper addresses the fundamental problem of combining information from the perspectives of both formal statistical inference and actuarial science, and discusses how the two fields not only have benefited from exchanges of ideas, but also have suffered from research isolation. Findings – The “credibility” problem of actuarial science, which involves the combining of statistical observations, may be formulated in the language of conventional statistical estimation. However, its unique concept of “collateral” information helped stimulate the development of empirical Bayesian techniques in statistics, and the actuarial literature itself has benefited from the rigorous statistical treatment of the credibility problem by conventional estimation theory. Interestingly, however, certain noteworthy gaps persist. Originality/value – The editorial illustrates how the exchange of ideas – or lack thereof – can have a profound effect on the development of science.
Bayesian statistical decision theory, Estimation, Information audit, Statistical analysis
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