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Risk loving after the storm: A Bayesian-Network study of Hurricane Katrina evacuees

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  • Eckel, Catherine C.
  • El-Gamal, Mahmoud A.
  • Wilson, Rick K.

Abstract

We investigate risk preferences of a sample of hurricane Katrina evacuees shortly after they were evacuated and transported to Houston, and another sample from the same population taken a year later. We also consider a third sample of resident Houstonians with demographics similar to the Katrina evacuees. Conventional statistical methods fail to explain a strong risk-loving bias in the first Katrina-evacuees sample. We utilize Bayesian Networks to investigate all relevant conditional distributions for gamble choices, demographic variables, and responses to psychometric questionnaires. We uncover surprising results: Contrary to prior experimental evidence, we find that women in our sample were significantly more risk loving in the first Katrina sample and only mildly more risk averse in the other two samples. We find that gamble choices are best predicted by positive-emotion variables. We therefore explain the risk-loving choices of the first Katrina-evacuees sample by the detected primacy of negative-emotion variables in that sample and explain the latter by traumatic and heightened-stress experiences shortly after the hurricane.

Suggested Citation

  • Eckel, Catherine C. & El-Gamal, Mahmoud A. & Wilson, Rick K., 2009. "Risk loving after the storm: A Bayesian-Network study of Hurricane Katrina evacuees," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 110-124, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:69:y:2009:i:2:p:110-124
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    2. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, in: Charles R. Plott & Vernon L. Smith (ed.), Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 113, pages 1061-1073, Elsevier.
    3. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, in: Charles R. Plott & Vernon L. Smith (ed.), Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 57, pages 509-519, Elsevier.
    4. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-630, October.
    5. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Forecasting Risk Attitudes: An Experimental Study Using Actual and Forecast Gamble Choices," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-01, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    6. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
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