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Individual Preferences, Monetary Gambles, and Stock Market Participation: A Case for Narrow Framing

  • Nicholas Barberis
  • Ming Huang
  • Richard H. Thaler

We argue that ?narrow framing,? whereby an agent who is offered a new gamble evaluates that gamble in isolation, may be a more important feature of decisionmaking than previously realized. Our starting point is the evidence that people are often averse to a small, independent gamble, even when the gamble is actuarially favorable. We find that a surprisingly wide range of utility functions, including many nonexpected utility specifications, have trouble explaining this evidence, but that this difficulty can be overcome by allowing for narrow framing. Our analysis makes predictions as to what kinds of preferences can most easily address the stock market participation puzzle. (JEL D81, G11)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.96.4.1069
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 96 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1069-1090

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:4:p:1069-1090
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.4.1069
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  1. Epstein, Larry G. & Zin, Stanley E., 1990. "'First-order' risk aversion and the equity premium puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 387-407, December.
  2. Haliassos, Michael & Bertaut, Carol C, 1995. "Why Do So Few Hold Stocks?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1110-29, September.
  3. Ang, Andrew & Bekaert, Geert & Liu, Jun, 2005. "Why stocks may disappoint," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 471-508, June.
  4. Alma Cohen & Liran Einav, 2005. "Estimating Risk Preferences from Deductible Choice," NBER Working Papers 11461, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Larry G. Epstein & Martin Schneider, 2007. "Learning Under Ambiguity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(4), pages 1275-1303.
  6. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Richard Thaler, 2003. "Individual Preferences, Monetary Gambles and the Equity Premium," NBER Working Papers 9997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Nicholas BARBERIS & Ming HUANG & Tano SANTOS, 2000. "Prospect Theory and Asset Prices," FAME Research Paper Series rp16, International Center for Financial Asset Management and Engineering.
  8. Raj Chetty, 2004. "Consumption Commitments, Unemployment Durations, and Local Risk Aversion," NBER Working Papers 10211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang, 2006. "The Loss Aversion / Narrow Framing Approach to the Equity Premium Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 12378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Epstein, Larry G. & Zin, Stanley E., 2001. "The independence axiom and asset returns," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 8(5), pages 537-572, December.
  11. Gul, Faruk, 1991. "A Theory of Disappointment Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 667-86, May.
  12. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1989. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: A Theoretical Framework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 937-69, July.
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