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Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?

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  • Thomas Dohmen
  • Armin Falk
  • David Huffman
  • Uwe Sunde

Abstract

This paper investigates whether risk aversion and impatience are correlated with cognitive ability. We conduct incentive compatible choice experiments measuring risk aversion, and impatience over an annual time horizon, for a representative sample of roughly 1,000 German adults. A measure of cognitive ability is provided by two submodules of one of the most widely used IQ tests. Interviews are conducted in subjects' own homes. We find that lower cognitive ability is associated with greater risk aversion, and more pronounced impatience. These relationships are statistically and economically significant, and robust to controlling for personal characteristics, educational attainment, income, and measures of liquidity constraints. We perform a series of additional robustness checks, which help rule out other possible confounds.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2009. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2620, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2620
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    Cited by:

    1. van Rooij, Maarten C.J. & Lusardi, Annamaria & Alessie, Rob J.M., 2011. "Financial literacy and retirement planning in the Netherlands," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 593-608, August.
    2. Strulik, Holger, 2012. "Patience and prosperity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(1), pages 336-352.
    3. Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "Sex Hormones and Choice under Risk," Working Papers 62, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    4. Almlund, Mathilde & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James & Kautz, Tim, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 1-181, Elsevier.
    5. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Lorenz Goette & Stephan Meier, 2010. "Financial literacy and subprime mortgage delinquency: evidence from a survey matched to administrative data," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2010-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    6. Brittany S. Cassidy & Angela H. Gutchess, 2016. "Age Effects in Adaptive Criterion Learning," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 71(6), pages 1015-1023.
    7. Jim Engle-Warnick & Diego Pulido & Marine de Montaignac, 2016. "A Comparison of Survey and Incentivized-Based Risk Attitude Elicitation," CIRANO Working Papers 2016s-40, CIRANO.
    8. Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "Sex Hormones and Choice under Risk," Working Papers 127, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    risk preference; time preference; cognitive ability; field experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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