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Higher Order Risk Attitudes, Demographics, and Financial Decisions

Author

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  • Charles N. Noussair
  • Stefan T. Trautmann
  • Gijs van de Kuilen

Abstract

We study the prevalence of the higher order risk attitudes of prudence and temperance in an experiment with a large demographically representative sample of participants. Under expected utility, prudence and temperance are defined by a convex first, and concave second, derivative of the utility function, and have direct implications for saving behaviour and portfolio choice. In the experiment, participants make pairwise choices that distinguish prudent from imprudent, and temperate from intemperate, behaviour. We correlate individuals' risk aversion, prudence, and temperance levels to their demographic profiles and their financial decisions outside the experiment. We observe that the majority of individuals' decisions are consistent with risk aversion, prudence, and temperance. Prudence is positively correlated with saving, as predicted by precautionary saving theory. Temperance is negatively correlated with the riskiness of portfolio choices. Copyright 2014, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles N. Noussair & Stefan T. Trautmann & Gijs van de Kuilen, 2014. "Higher Order Risk Attitudes, Demographics, and Financial Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 325-355.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:81:y:2014:i:1:p:325-355
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdt032
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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