IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Asset-Pricing Implications of Biologically Based Non-Expected Utility


  • Emil Iantchev

    (Syracuse University)


Results in population ecology suggest that evolutionary successful species should have an adaptive (reference-based) S-shaped utility function that is intrinsically more sensitive to aggregate than uninsured idiosyncratic shocks--the former cannot be diversified demographically. To test the asset-pricing relevance of these ideas, I embed the non-expected utility specification implied by evolutionary theory into an economy with partial risk sharing due to limited commitment. For the benchmark specification (CRRA=6 over gains), Monte Carlo simulations of a Markov growth economy produce the following results: (i) matching the degree of consumption-smoothing in the cross section, the Sharpe ratio for a Lucas tree is 0.33, an increase of 44 percent relative to expected utility; (ii) the risk-free rate is low, stable and counter cyclical, hence equity returns, unlike in the expected utility case, have the correct pattern of predictability; (iii) in the cross section, excess returns across equity classes exhibit both a value premium and a size discount with risk adjusted returns that are at least two times higher than their expected utility counterparts. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Emil Iantchev, 2013. "Asset-Pricing Implications of Biologically Based Non-Expected Utility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(3), pages 497-510, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:11-255
    DOI: 10.1010/

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full texts is restricted to ScienceDirect subscribers and institutional members. See for details.

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

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hansen, Lars Peter & Jagannathan, Ravi, 1991. "Implications of Security Market Data for Models of Dynamic Economies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 225-262, April.
    2. Dirk Krueger & Hanno Lustig & Fabrizio Perri, 2008. "Evaluating Asset Pricing Models with Limited Commitment Using Household Consumption Data," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 715-726, 04-05.
    3. Bryan R. Routledge & Stanley E. Zin, 2010. "Generalized Disappointment Aversion and Asset Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(4), pages 1303-1332, August.
    4. John Campbell & Angus Deaton, 1989. "Why is Consumption So Smooth?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 357-373.
    5. YiLi Chien & Hanno Lustig, 2010. "The Market Price of Aggregate Risk and the Wealth Distribution," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 1596-1650, April.
    6. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2000. "Efficiency, Equilibrium, and Asset Pricing with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 775-798, July.
    7. David K. Backus & Bryan R. Routledge & Stanley E. Zin, 2005. "Exotic Preferences for Macroeconomists," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 319-414 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Timothy J. Kehoe & David K. Levine, 1993. "Debt-Constrained Asset Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 865-888.
    9. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, 2001. "Prospect Theory and Asset Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 1-53.
    10. Robson, Arthur J., 1996. "A Biological Basis for Expected and Non-expected Utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 397-424, February.
    11. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "Consumption and Labor Supply with Partial Insurance: An Analytical Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2075-2126, July.
    12. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah J, 1996. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 443-487, June.
    13. Kehoe, Timothy J & Levine, David K, 2001. "Liquidity Constrained Markets versus Debt Constrained Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(3), pages 575-598, May.
    14. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-976, October.
    15. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing without Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(4), pages 595-609.
    16. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
    17. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By force of habit: a consumption-based explanation of aggregate stock market behavior," Working Papers 94-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    18. Orazio P. Attanasio & Nicola Pavoni, 2011. "Risk Sharing in Private Information Models With Asset Accumulation: Explaining the Excess Smoothness of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1027-1068, July.
    19. Alvarez, Fernando & Jermann, Urban J, 2001. "Quantitative Asset Pricing Implications of Endogenous Solvency Constraints," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(4), pages 1117-1151.
    20. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
    21. Marianne Andries, 2012. "Consumption-based Asset Pricing Loss Aversion," 2012 Meeting Papers 571, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    22. Luis Rayo & Gary S. Becker, 2007. "Evolutionary Efficiency and Happiness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 302-337.
    23. Yogo, Motohiro, 2008. "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation and Reference-Dependent Preferences," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 26, pages 131-143, April.
    24. John H. Cochrane & Lars Peter Hansen, 1992. "Asset Pricing Explorations for Macroeconomics," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1992, Volume 7, pages 115-182 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Recursive utility; Limited commitment; Equity return predictability; Cross-sectional distribution of equity returns;

    JEL classification:

    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates


    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:red:issued:11-255. 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: (Christian Zimmermann). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.