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The Role Of Risk Aversion In Predicting Individual Behavior

  • Luigi Guiso


    (Universit� degli Studi di Sassari)

  • Monica Paiella


    (Bank of Italy)

We use household survey data to construct a direct measure of absolute risk aversion based on the maximum price a consumer is willing to pay to buy a risky asset. We relate this measure to a set of consumers� decisions that in theory should vary with attitude towards risk. We find that elicited risk aversion has considerable predictive power for a number of key household decisions such as choice of occupation, portfolio selection, moving decisions and exposure to chronic diseases in ways consistent with theory. We also use this indicator to address the importance of self-selection when relating indicators of risk to individual saving decisions.

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Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 546.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_546_05
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  1. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development," NBER Working Papers 7563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. M. Fatih Guvenen, 2002. "Reconciling Conflicting Evidence on the Elasticity of Intertemporal Substitution: A Macroeconomic Perspective," RCER Working Papers 491, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER), revised Mar 2003.
  3. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2003. "Entrepreneurship, frictions, and wealth," Staff Report 322, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1992. "Earnings Uncertainty and Precautionary Saving," CEPR Discussion Papers 699, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Kimball, Miles S, 1993. "Standard Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 589-611, May.
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  7. Skinner, Jonathan, 1988. "Risky income, life cycle consumption, and precautionary savings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 237-255, September.
  8. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1994. "Income Risk, Borrowing Constraints and Portfolio Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 888, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Dreze, Jacques H. & Modigliani, Franco, 1972. "Consumption decisions under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 308-335, December.
  10. Breeden, Douglas T., 1979. "An intertemporal asset pricing model with stochastic consumption and investment opportunities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 265-296, September.
  11. Monica Paiella & Luigi Guiso, 2004. "Risk Aversion, Wealth and Background Risk," 2004 Meeting Papers 525, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. Francesco Daveri & Riccardo Faini, . "Where do migrants go?," Working Papers 124, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  13. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "Earnings Uncertainty and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 859-71, September.
  14. Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Economics Working Papers E00-279, University of California at Berkeley.
  15. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah, 2000. "Portfolio Choice in the Presence of Background Risk," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(460), pages 1-26, January.
  16. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
  17. Robert B. Barsky & F. Thomas Juster & Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-579.
  18. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Miles S. Kimball, 1991. "Precautionary Motives for Holding Assets," NBER Working Papers 3586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2002. "Does Local Financial Development Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3307, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Samuelson, Paul A, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection by Dynamic Stochastic Programming," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 239-46, August.
  22. Hartog, Joop & Vijverberg, Wim P., 2002. "Do Wages Really Compensate for Risk Aversion and Skewness Affection?," IZA Discussion Papers 426, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Merton, Robert C, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 247-57, August.
  24. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  25. Christopher D Carroll, 2000. "Portfolios of the Rich," Economics Working Paper Archive 430, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  26. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Earnings and Employment Risk," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 241-53, April.
  27. Brunello, Giorgio, 2000. "Absolute Risk Aversion and the Returns to Education," IZA Discussion Papers 192, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  28. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 43, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  29. Pratt, John W & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1987. "Proper Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 143-54, January.
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