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The Nature of Risk Preferences: Evidence from Insurance Choices

Author

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  • Levon Barseghyan
  • Francesca Molinari
  • Ted O'Donoghue
  • Joshua C. Teitelbaum

Abstract

We use data on insurance deductible choices to estimate a structural model of risky choice that incorporates "standard" risk aversion (diminishing marginal utility for wealth) and probability distortions. We find that probability distortions?characterized by substantial overweighting of small probabilities and only mild insensitivity to probability changes?play an important role in explaining the aversion to risk manifested in deductible choices. This finding is robust to allowing for observed and unobserved heterogeneity in preferences. We demonstrate that neither K?szegi-Rabin loss aversion alone nor Gul disappointment aversion alone can explain our estimated probability distortions, signifying a key role for probability weighting.

Suggested Citation

  • Levon Barseghyan & Francesca Molinari & Ted O'Donoghue & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2013. "The Nature of Risk Preferences: Evidence from Insurance Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2499-2529, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:6:p:2499-2529
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.6.2499
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    JEL classification:

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

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