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The shadow of the past: Financial risk taking and negative life events

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  • Bucciol, Alessandro
  • Zarri, Luca

Abstract

Based on data from the four 2004–2010 waves of the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we show that financial risk taking is significantly related to life-history negative events out of an individual’s control. Using observed portfolio decisions to proxy for risk taking, we find correlation with two of such individual-specific events: having been victim of a physical attack and (especially) the loss of a child are associated with lower and less frequent investments in risky assets, with an intensity similar to that of the beginning, in 2008, of a collectively experienced event such as the recent financial crisis. We also find evidence that the correlation of risk taking with a child loss is long-lasting, as opposed to the correlation with a physical attack that disappears after few years. Our analysis is more in favor of a preference-based – rather than a belief-based – explanation of the observed change in risk taking. Overall our findings indicate that the past, especially through the loss of a child, casts a long shadow that extends over individuals’ current decisions also within unrelated domains.

Suggested Citation

  • Bucciol, Alessandro & Zarri, Luca, 2015. "The shadow of the past: Financial risk taking and negative life events," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 1-16.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:48:y:2015:i:c:p:1-16
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2015.02.006
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Tausch, Franziska & Zumbuehl, Maria, 2018. "Stability of risk attitudes and media coverage of economic news," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 295-310.
    2. repec:spr:soinre:v:132:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1316-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:soceco:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Alessandro Bucciol & Luca Zarri, 2016. "The Shadow of the Past: Does Personality Change After Lifetime Traumas?," Working Papers 15/2016, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    5. Alessandro Bucciol & Simona Cicognani & Luca Zarri, 2017. "The Status-Enhancing Power of Sociability," Working Paper series 17-15, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    6. Alessandro Bucciol & Alessio Hu & Luca Zarri, 2017. "The Effects of Prior Shocks on Managerial Risk Taking: Evidence from Italian Professional Soccer," Working Papers 17/2017, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    7. repec:eee:joepsy:v:61:y:2017:i:c:p:191-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Alessandro Bucciol & Simona Cicognani & Luca Zarri, 2017. "The Social Status-Enhancing Power of Social Ties," Working Papers 04/2017, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    9. Bucciol, Alessandro & Cavasso, Barbara & Zarri, Luca, 2015. "Social status and personality traits," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 245-260.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk taking; Financial asset ownership; Negative life events; Behavioral finance;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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