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Keywords:

  • Bayesian predictive distribution;
  • competing risks;
  • entropy;
  • failure rate;
  • prior distribution;
  • proportional hazards;
  • posterior distribution;
  • stochastic order

Abstract

A framework involving independent competing risks permits observing failures due to a specific cause and failures due to a competing cause, which constitute survival times from the cause of primary interest. Is observing more failures more informative than observing survivals? Intuitively, due to the definitiveness of failures, the answer seems to be the former. However, it has been shown before that this intuition holds when estimating the mean but not the failure rate of the exponential model with a gamma prior distribution for the failure rate. In this article, we address this question at a more general level. We show that for a certain class of distributions failures can be more informative than survivals for prediction of life length and vice versa for some others. We also show that for a large class of lifetime models, failure is less informative than survival for estimating the proportional hazards parameter with gamma, Jeffreys, and uniform priors. We further show that, for this class of lifetime models, on average, failure is more informative than survival for parameter estimation and for prediction. These results imply that the inferential purpose and properties of the lifetime distribution are germane for conducting life tests. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics, 2013