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Risk-Averse by Nation or by Religion?: Some Insights on the Determinants of Individual Risk Attitudes

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  • Stephan Bartke
  • Reimund Schwarze

Abstract

Research findings have proven that the willingness to take risks is distributed heterogeneously among individuals. In the general public, there is a widely held notion that individuals of certain nationalities tend to hold certain typical risk preferences. Furthermore, religious beliefs are thought to explain differences in risk-preparedness on the individual level. We analyze these two possible determinants of individual risk attitudes: nationality and religion. First addressing the study of risk attitudes in a literature review, we then test our hypotheses empirically using the large, representative German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). To understand the importance of nationality, we focus on emigrants to Germany. The key findings are: (1) Nationality is not a valid determinant of risk attitudes. It can be broken down into several constituent factors including religion. (2) Religiousness is a significant determinant of risk attitudes. Religious persons are less risk-tolerant than atheists. Moreover, religious affiliation matters: Muslims are less risk-tolerant than Christians.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 131.

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Length: 16 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp131

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Keywords: Risk Aversion; Nationality; Immigrants; Religion; Germany;

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References

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  1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2012. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 645-677.
  2. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  3. David A. Jaeger & Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Holger Bonin, 2010. "Direct Evidence on Risk Attitudes and Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 684-689, August.
  4. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
  5. Lehrer, Evelyn L., 2008. "The Role of Religion in Economic and Demographic Behavior in the United States: A Review of the Recent Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 3541, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Schupp, Jürgen & Sunde, Uwe & Wagner, Gert Georg, 2006. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 5517, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  8. Azzi, Corry & Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1975. "Household Allocation of Time and Church Attendance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(1), pages 27-56, February.
  9. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Yaron Zelekha & Gil Avnimelech & Eyal Sharabi, 2014. "Religious institutions and entrepreneurship," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(4), pages 747-767, April.
  2. Eling, Martin & Pradhan, Shailee & Schmit, Joan T., 2013. "The Determinants of Microinsurance Demand," Working Papers on Finance 1308, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
  3. Tracey West & Andrew Worthington, 2014. "Macroeconomic Conditions and Australian Financial Risk Attitudes, 2001–2010," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 263-277, June.
  4. Olaf Hübler, 2012. "Are Tall People Less Risk Averse than Others?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 457, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Anja Koebrich Leon & Christian Pfeifer, 2013. "An Empirical Note on Religiosity and Social Trust using German Survey Data," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 753-763.
  6. Hamed Ekhtiari & Ali Jannati & Morteza Dehghani & Azarakhsh Mokri, 2009. "Prefer a cash slap in your face over credit for halva," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(7), pages 534-542, December.

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