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Are Risk Attitudes Fixed Factors or Fleeting Feelings?

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  • Cho, In Soo
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    Abstract

    We investigate the stability of measured risk attitudes over time, using a 13-year longitudinal sample of individuals in the NLSY79. We find that an individual’s risk aversion changes systematically in response to personal economic circumstances. �Risk aversion increases with lengthening spells of employment and time out of labor force, and decreases with lengthening unemployment spells.� However, the most important result is that the majority of the variation in risk aversion is due to changes in measured individual tastes over time and not to variation across individuals.� These findings that measured risk preferences are endogenous and subject to substantial measurement errors suggest caution in interpreting coefficients in models relying on contemporaneous, one-time measures of risk preferences. �

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    Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 35751.

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    Date of creation: 10 Jan 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:35751

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    Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
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    Keywords: risk aversion; stability; variance decomposition; within; measurement error; between; fixed effects;

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    1. Donkers, A.C.D. & Melenberg, B. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 1999. "Estimating Risk Attitudes Using Lotteries; A Large Sample Approach," Discussion Paper 1999-12, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    2. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Who is “Behavioral”? Cognitive Ability and Anomalous Preferences," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001334, David K. Levine.
    3. Feinberg, Robert M, 1977. "Risk Aversion, Risk, and the Duration of Unemployment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(3), pages 264-71, August.
    4. Ulrike Malmendier & Stefan Nagel, 2009. "Depression Babies: Do Macroeconomic Experiences Affect Risk-Taking?," NBER Working Papers 14813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
    6. Isaac, R Mark & James, Duncan, 2000. " Just Who Are You Calling Risk Averse?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 177-87, March.
    7. Levon Barseghyan & Jeffrey Prince & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2011. "Are Risk Preferences Stable across Contexts? Evidence from Insurance Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 591-631, April.
    8. Hans Binswanger, 1980. "Attitudes toward risk: Experimental measurement in rural india," Artefactual Field Experiments 00009, The Field Experiments Website.
    9. Lisa Anderson & Jennifer Mellor, 2009. "Are risk preferences stable? Comparing an experimental measure with a validated survey-based measure," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 137-160, October.
    10. Hartog, Joop & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Jonker, Nicole, 2002. "Linking Measured Risk Aversion to Individual Characteristics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 3-26.
    11. Love, Ross O. & Robison, Lindon J., 1984. "An Empirical Analysis Of The Intertemporal Stability Of Risk Preference," Southern Journal of Agricultural Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 16(01), July.
    12. Marc F. Bellemare & Zachary S. Brown, 2010. "On the (Mis)Use of Wealth as a Proxy for Risk Aversion," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(1), pages 273-282.
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