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Comprehension and risk elicitation in the field: Evidence from rural Senegal

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  • Charness, Gary
  • Viceisza, Angelino

Abstract

In the past decade, it has become increasingly common to use simple laboratory games and decision tasks as a device for measuring both the preferences and understanding of rural populations in the developing world. This is vitally important for policy implementation in a variety of areas. In this paper, we report the results observed using three distinct risk elicitation mechanisms, using samples drawn from the rural population in Senegal, West Africa. Whatever the intellectual merits of a particular elicitation strategy, there is little value in performing such tests if the respondents do not understand the questions involved. We test the understanding of and the level of meaningful responses to the typical Holt-Laury task, to a simple binary mechanism pioneered by Gneezy and Potters in 1997 and adapted by Charness and Gneezy in 2010, and to a nonincentivized willingness-to-risk scale à la Dohmen et al. We find a disturbingly low level of understanding with the Holt-Laury task and an unlikely-to-be-accurate pattern with the willingness-to-risk question. On the other hand, the simple binary mechanism produces results that closely match the patterns found in previous work, although the levels of risk-taking are lower than in previous studies. Our study is a cautionary note against utilizing either sophisticated risk-elicitation mechanisms at the possible cost of seriously diminished levels of comprehension or nonincentivized questions in the rural developing world.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series IFPRI discussion papers with number 1135.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1135

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Keywords: comprehension; risk elicitation; laboratory experiments in the field; rural;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Filippin, A. & Crosetto, P., 2014. "A reconsideration of gender differences in risk attitudes," Working Papers 2014-01, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
  2. Paolo Crosetto & Antonio Filippin, 2013. "The “bomb” risk elicitation task," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 31-65, August.
  3. Sule Alan & Nazli Baydar & Teodora Boneva & Thomas F. Crossley & Seda Ertac, 2013. "Parental Socialization Effort and the Intergenerational Transmission of Risk Preferences," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1313, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
  4. Ihli, Hanna Julia & Musshoff, Oliver, 2013. "Investment Behavior of Ugandan Smallholder Farmers: An Experimental Analysis," Discussion Papers 154775, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
  5. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri & Imas, Alex, 2013. "Experimental methods: Eliciting risk preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 43-51.
  6. Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Lefebvre, Mathieu & Bouchouicha, Ranoua & Chmura, Thorsten & Hakimov, Rustamdjan & Krawczyk, Michal & Martinsson, Peter, 2013. "Common components of risk and uncertainty attitudes across contexts and domains: Evidence from 30 countries," Discussion Papers, WZB Junior Research Group Risk and Development SP II 2013-402, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  7. Paolo Crosetto & Antonio Filippin, 2013. "A Theoretical and Experimental Appraisal of Five Risk Elicitation Methods," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 547, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  8. Norbert Hirschauer & Oliver Musshoff & Syster C. Maart-Noelck & Sven Gruener, 2014. "Eliciting risk attitudes -- how to avoid mean and variance bias in Holt-and-Laury lotteries," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 35-38, January.
  9. Ihli, Hanna Julia & Musshoff, Oliver, 2013. "Understanding the Investment Behavior of Ugandan Smallholder Farmers: An Experimental Analysis," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150331, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  10. Ward, Patrick S. & Singh, Vartika, 2013. "Risk and Ambiguity Preferences and the Adoption of New Agricultural Technologies: Evidence from Field Experiments in Rural India," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150794, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  11. Helena Szrek & Li-Wei Chao & Shandir Ramlagan & Karl Peltzer, 2012. "Predicting (un)healthy behavior: A comparison of risk-taking propensity measures," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(6), pages 716-727, November.

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