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Income in jeopardy: How losing employment affects the willingness to take risks

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  • Hetschko, Clemens
  • Preuss, Malte

Abstract

Identifying the determinants of risk-taking is crucial for our understanding of a variety of choices. Using German panel data, we find that people become more risk-averse when losing work. The immediate income loss does not mediate this effect. It seems also unrelated to the loss of non-monetary benefits of work and to changes of worker’s emotional state. However, we find that risk aversion responds the more strongly to losing work the more future income is at stake, and that the effect manifests itself already on the eve of job loss when people do not yet suffer from the consequences of the event. We conclude that lower future income expectations and more uncertainty about future incomes may explain the effect of job loss on risk attitude. Our results might imply that a recession may reinforce itself as it induces people to fear job loss, which raises their risk aversion and might therefore reduce the willingness to invest in risky projects. Moreover, self-assessed risk attitude seems to measure absolute risk aversion and thus not only an underlying risk preference parameter.

Suggested Citation

  • Hetschko, Clemens & Preuss, Malte, 2020. "Income in jeopardy: How losing employment affects the willingness to take risks," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:79:y:2020:i:c:s0167487018307141
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2019.05.005
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    Cited by:

    1. Preuss, Malte & Hennecke, Juliane, 2017. "Biased by success and failure: How unemployment shapes stated locus of control," Discussion Papers 2017/29, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    2. Frondel, Manuel & Osberghaus, Daniel & Sommer, Stephan, 2021. "Corona and the stability of personal traits and preferences: Evidence from Germany," Ruhr Economic Papers 903, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    3. Armando N. Meier, 2019. "Emotions, Risk Attitudes, and Patience," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1041, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. 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.
    5. Ayton, Peter & Bernile, Gennaro & Bucciol, Alessandro & Zarri, Luca, 2020. "The impact of life experiences on risk taking," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    6. Matthias Brachert & Walter Hyll & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2020. "Entry into self-employment and individuals’ risk-taking propensities," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 55(4), pages 1057-1074, December.
    7. Luc Meunier & Sima Ohadi, 2021. "The Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Individuals' Risk and Time Preferences," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 41(3), pages 1050-1069.
    8. Viola Angelini & Irene Ferrari, 2021. "The long-term effects of experienced macroeconomic shocks on wealth," Working Papers 2021:23, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk attitude; Job loss; Job insecurity; Expectations about future income; Measurement of risk attitude;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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