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Time varying risk aversion

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  • Guiso, Luigi
  • Sapienza, Paola
  • Zingales, Luigi

Abstract

Exploiting portfolio data and repeated surveys of an Italian bank's clients, we test whether investors’ risk aversion increases following the 2008 crisis. We find that, after the crisis, both qualitative and quantitative measures of risk aversion increase substantially and that affected individuals divest more stock. We investigate four explanations: changes in wealth, expected income, perceived probabilities, and emotion-based changes of the utility function. Our data are inconsistent with the first two channels, while they suggest that fear is a potential mechanism underlying financial decisions, whether by increasing the curvature of the utility function or the salience of negative outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2018. "Time varying risk aversion," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(3), pages 403-421.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:128:y:2018:i:3:p:403-421
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2018.02.007
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G41 - Financial Economics - - Behavioral Finance - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making in Financial Markets
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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