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Standard Risk Aversion

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  • Miles S. Kimball

Abstract

This paper introduces the concept of standard risk aversion. A von Neumann-Morgenstern utility function has standard risk aversion if any risk makes a small reduction in wealth more painful (in the sense of an increased reduction in expected utility) also makes any undesirable, independent risk more painful. It is shown that, given monotonicity and concavity, the combination of decreasing absolute risk aversion and decreasing absolute prudence is necessary and sufficient for standard risk aversion. Standard risk aversion is shown to imply not only Pratt and Zeckhauser's 'proper risk aversion" (individually undesirable, independent risks always being jointly undesirable) , but also that being forced to face an undesirable risk reduces the optimal investment in a risky security with and independent return. Similar results are established for the effect of broad class of increases in one risk on the desirability of (or optimal investment in) a second, independent risk.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0099.

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Date of creation: Mar 1991
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Publication status: published as Econometrica, May 1993, 61 (3), pp. 589-611
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0099

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  1. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  2. Dreze, Jacques H. & Modigliani, Franco, 1972. "Consumption decisions under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 308-335, December.
  3. Machina, Mark J, 1982. ""Expected Utility" Analysis without the Independence Axiom," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 277-323, March.
  4. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1986. "The equity premium and the concentration of aggregate shocks," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 211-219, September.
  5. Sandmo, Agnar, 1970. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Saving Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(3), pages 353-60, July.
  6. Pratt, John W & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1987. "Proper Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 143-54, January.
  7. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1971. "Increasing risk II: Its economic consequences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 66-84, March.
  8. Mark Bagnoli & Ted Bergstrom, 2005. "Log-concave probability and its applications," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 445-469, 08.
  9. Nachman, David C., 1982. "Preservation of "more risk averse" under expectations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 361-368, December.
  10. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Romer, David & Williams, Steve, 1981. "Risk Aversion with Random Initial Wealth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 911-20, June.
  11. Pratt, John W, 1990. " The Logic of Partial-Risk Aversion: Paradox Lost," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 105-13, June.
  12. Miles S. Kimball, 1990. "Precautionary Saving and the Marginal Propensity to Consume," NBER Working Papers 3403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Miles S. Kimball, 1989. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," NBER Working Papers 2848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Ross, Stephen A, 1981. "Some Stronger Measures of Risk Aversion in the Small and the Large with Applications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 621-38, May.
  15. Pratt, John W, 1988. " Aversion to One Risk in the Presence of Others," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(4), pages 395-413, December.
  16. Miles S. Kimball, 1991. "Precautionary Motives for Holding Assets," NBER Working Papers 3586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Diamond, Peter A. & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1974. "Increases in risk and in risk aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 337-360, July.
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