Parametric Characterizations of Risk Aversion and Prudence
AbstractWe show that in order to determine whether one decision-maker is more risk averse than another, it is sufficient to consider their attitudes towards a given two-parameter family of risks. When all risks belong to this family, useful comparisons of risk aversion can be made even in situations of ‘background risk’. Since expected utility becomes a function of mean and standard deviation, risk aversion can be measured by the marginal rate of substitution between mean and standard deviation. A utility function exhibits decreasing risk aversion if, and only if, this slope is a decreasing function of the mean. Second, we use the concept of prudence to solve a long-standing problem in mean-variance analysis: what is the economic interpretation of the concavity of a utility function which is a function of mean and variance? We show that in the case of normal distributions, utility is concave as a function of variance and mean if, and only if, it exhibits decreasing prudence.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1650.
Date of creation: May 1997
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Other versions of this item:
- Lars Tyge Nielsen & Fatma Lajeri, 2000. "Parametric characterizations of risk aversion and prudence," Economic Theory, Springer, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 469-476.
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
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