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How General Are Risk Preferences? Choices under Uncertainty in Different Domains

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Listed:
  • Liran Einav
  • Amy Finkelstein
  • Iuliana Pascu
  • Mark R. Cullen

Abstract

We analyze the extent to which individuals' choices over five employer-provided insurance coverage decisions and one 401(k) investment decision exhibit systematic patterns, as would be implied by a general utility component of risk preferences. We provide evidence consistent with an important domain-general component that operates across all insurance choices. We find a considerably weaker relationship between one's insurance decisions and 401(k) asset allocation, although this relationship appears larger for more "financially sophisticated" individuals. Estimates from a stylized coverage choice model suggest that up to 30 percent of our sample makes choices that may be consistent across all 6 domains. (JEL D12, D14, D81, G22, J33)

Suggested Citation

  • Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Iuliana Pascu & Mark R. Cullen, 2012. "How General Are Risk Preferences? Choices under Uncertainty in Different Domains," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2606-2638, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:6:p:2606-38
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

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