In multiperiod stochastic optimization problems, the future optimal decision is a random variable whose distribution depends on the parameters of the optimization problem. I analyze how the expected value of this random variable changes as a function of the dynamic optimization parameters in the context of Markov decision processes. I call this analysis stochastic comparative statics. I derive both comparative statics results and stochastic comparative statics results showing how the current and future optimal decisions change in response to changes in the single-period payoff function, the discount factor, the initial state of the system, and the transition probability function. I apply my results to various models from the economics and operations research literature, including investment theory, dynamic pricing models, controlled random walks, and comparisons of stationary distributions.
- Comparative statics
- Markov decision processes
- Stochastic comparative statics