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On Social Preferences and the Intensity of Risk Aversion

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  • Oded Stark

Abstract

We study the relative risk aversion of an individual with particular social preferences: his wellbeing is influenced by his relative wealth, and by how concerned he is about having low relative wealth. Holding constant the individual's absolute wealth, we obtain two results. First, if the individual's level of concern about low relative wealth does not change, the individual becomes more risk averse when he rises in the wealth hierarchy. Second, if the individual's level of concern about low relative wealth intensifies when he rises in the wealth hierarchy and if, in precise sense, this intensification is strong enough, then the individual becomes less risk averse: the individual's desire to advance further in the wealth hierarchy is more important to him than possibly missing out on a better rank.

Suggested Citation

  • Oded Stark, 2019. "On Social Preferences and the Intensity of Risk Aversion," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 86(3), pages 807-826, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jrinsu:v:86:y:2019:i:3:p:807-826
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/jori.12239
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Levy, Haim, 1994. "Absolute and Relative Risk Aversion: An Experimental Study," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 289-307, May.
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    8. Stark, Oded & Zawojska, Ewa, 2015. "Gender differentiation in risk-taking behavior: On the relative risk aversion of single men and single women," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 83-87.
    9. Alain Cohn & Ernst Fehr & Benedikt Herrmann & Frédéric Schneider, 2014. "Social Comparison And Effort Provision: Evidence From A Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 877-898, August.
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    12. Gregory, Nathaniel, 1980. "Relative Wealth and Risk Taking: A Short Note on the Friedman-Savage Utility Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(6), pages 1226-1230, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Oded STARK & Krzysztof SZCZYGIELSKI, 2019. "The Likelihood of Divorce and the Riskiness of Financial Decisions," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 85(3), pages 209-229, September.
    2. Stark, Oded & Budzinski, Wiktor & Jakubek, Marcin, 2019. "Pure Rank Preferences and Variation in Risk-Taking Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 12637, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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