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Eliciting Risk Preferences: A Field Experiment on a Sample of French Farmers


  • Bougherara, Douadia
  • Gassmann, Xavier
  • Piet, Laurent


We designed a field experiment involving real payments to elicit farmers’ risk preferences. Farmers are a very interesting sample to study since risk has always played an important role in agricultural producers’ decisions. Besides, European farmers may face more risky situations in the future. In this context, it is very important for any economic analysis focusing on agriculture to correctly assess farmers’ behaviour in the face of different sources of risk. We test for two descriptions of farmers’ behaviour: expected utility and cumulative prospect theory. We use two elicitation methods based on the procedures of Holt and Laury (2002) and Tanaka et al. (2010) on a sample of 30 French farmers. The experiment consists in asking subjects to make series of choices between two lotteries with varying probabilities and outcomes. We estimate parameters describing farmers’ risk preferences derived from structural models. We find farmers are slightly risk averse in the expected utility framework. In the cumulative prospect theory frame, we find farmers display either loss aversion or probability weighting, tending to overweight small probabilities and to underweight high probabilities. In our study, expected utility is not a good description of farmers’ behaviour towards risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Bougherara, Douadia & Gassmann, Xavier & Piet, Laurent, 2011. "Eliciting Risk Preferences: A Field Experiment on a Sample of French Farmers," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114266, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:eaae11:114266

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andersen, Steffen & Harrison, Glenn W. & Lau, Morten Igel & Rutström, Elisabet E., 2010. "Behavioral econometrics for psychologists," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 553-576, August.
    2. Glenn Harrison & E. Rutström, 2009. "Expected utility theory and prospect theory: one wedding and a decent funeral," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(2), pages 133-158, June.
    3. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    4. Tomomi Tanaka & Colin F. Camerer & Quang Nguyen, 2010. "Risk and Time Preferences: Linking Experimental and Household Survey Data from Vietnam," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 557-571, March.
    5. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bauermeister, Golo-Friedrich & Mußhoff, Oliver, 2016. "Risk Attitude And Inconsistencies - Does The Choice Of Display Format And Risk Elicitation Method Influence The Outcomes?," 56th Annual Conference, Bonn, Germany, September 28-30, 2016 244764, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    2. Bauermeister, Golo & Musshoff, Oliver, 2016. "Risk Aversion and Inconsistencies - Does the Choice of Risk Elicitation Method and Display Format Influence the Outcomes?," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235348, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item


    Risk Attitudes; Field Experiment; Farming; Risk and Uncertainty; C93; D81; Q10;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General

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