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On the Interaction of Risk and Time Preferences: An Experimental Study

  • Vital Anderhub
  • Werner Güth
  • Uri Gneezy
  • Doron Sonsino

Experimental studies of risk and time preference typically focus on one of the two phenomena. The goal of this paper is to investigate the (possible) correlation between subjects' attitude to risk and their time preference. For this sake we ask 61 subjects to price a simple lottery in three different scenarios. At the first, the lottery premium is paid 'now'. At the second, it is paid 'later'. At the third, it is paid 'even later'. By comparing the certainty equivalents offered by the subjects for the three lotteries, we test how time and risk preferences are interrelated. Since the time interval between 'now' and 'later' is the same as between 'later' and 'even later', we also test the hypothesis of hyperbolic discounting. The main result is a statistically significant negative correlation between subjects' degrees of risk aversion and their (implicit) discount factors. Moreover, we show that the negative correlation is independent of the method used to elicit certainty equivalents (willingness to pay versus willingness to accept). Copyright Verein fü Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001.

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Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 2 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 239-253

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Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:2:y:2001:i:3:p:239-253
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  1. Amiram Gafni & George W. Torrance, 1984. "Risk Attitude and Time Preference in Health," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(4), pages 440-451, April.
  2. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  3. Hey, John D & Dardanoni, Valentino, 1987. "Optimal Consumption under Uncertainty: An Experimental Investigation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(390), pages 105-16, Supplemen.
  4. David I. Laibson, 1996. "Hyperbolic Discount Functions, Undersaving, and Savings Policy," NBER Working Papers 5635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Drazen Prelec & George Loewenstein, 1991. "Decision Making Over Time and Under Uncertainty: A Common Approach," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(7), pages 770-786, July.
  6. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:2:p:573-97 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  8. Keren, Gideon & Roelofsma, Peter, 1995. "Immediacy and Certainty in Intertemporal Choice," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 287-297, September.
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