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Estimating Risk Preferences in the Field


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


We survey the literature on estimating risk preferences using field data. We concentrate our attention on studies in which risk preferences are the focal object and estimating their structure is the core enterprise. We review a number of models of risk preferences—including both expected utility (EU) theory and non-EU models—that have been estimated using field data, and we highlight issues related to identification and estimation of such models using field data. We then survey the literature, giving separate treatment to research that uses individual-level data (e.g., property-insurance data) and research that uses aggregate data (e.g., betting-market data). We conclude by discussing directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Levon Barseghyan & Francesca Molinari & Ted O'Donoghue & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2018. "Estimating Risk Preferences in the Field," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(2), pages 501-564, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:56:y:2018:i:2:p:501-64
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.20161148

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:ausecp:v:57:y:2018:i:3:p:238-249 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Levon Barseghyan & Francesca Molinari & Matthew Thirkettle, 2019. "Discrete Choice under Risk with Limited Consideration," Papers 1902.06629,
    3. Moshe A. Milevsky, 2018. "Swimming with Wealthy Sharks: Longevity, Volatility and the Value of Risk Pooling," Papers 1811.11326,
    4. repec:eee:insuma:v:84:y:2019:i:c:p:40-53 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private


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