IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Risk Attitudes Toward Small and Large Bets in the Presence of Background Risk


  • David A. Chapman
  • Valery Polkovnichenko


If an individual with expected utility and a reasonable level of wealth rejects a small actuarially favorable gamble, it implies a very high degree of risk aversion. It also predicts (counterfactually) the rejection of more sizable and very attractive bets. If additional background uncertainty affects wealth, this result also applies to non-expected utilities. The authors describe a set of reasonable conditions under which an individual may reject the small bet but accept the large bet, even in the presence of background uncertainty. The two critical assumptions that the authors use are rank-dependent utility and a discrete distribution for background risk. Plausible calibrations can reconcile large/small bet risk attitudes and the empirical evidence on limited stock market participation in the presence of labor income risk. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • David A. Chapman & Valery Polkovnichenko, 2011. "Risk Attitudes Toward Small and Large Bets in the Presence of Background Risk," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(4), pages 909-927.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:revfin:v:15:y:2011:i:4:p:909-927

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Haug, Jørgen & Hens, Thorsten & Woehrmann, Peter, 2013. "Risk aversion in the large and in the small," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 310-313.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:revfin:v:15:y:2011:i:4:p:909-927. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.