Risk Preferences Under Extreme Poverty: A Field Experiment
Until now, the dominant belief concerning the relationship between poverty and risk aversion is that the poor are more risk averse. If the poor are more risk averse, then they will choose "low risk–low return" activities that trap them in poverty. However, both empirical and experimental evidence show no clear pattern such as would suggest that the poor are somehowmore averse to risk than others; at times, they even seem to embrace risk, while at other times, there seems to be no difference. Focus has tended to be on extreme behaviors, as these are related to sub-optimal decisions such as have even raised questions whether an individual can be simultaneously both poor and rational. Amongst all the available empirical evidence, there is one bit of evidence of special interest—changes in behavior whenever subsistence is at risk. This paper emerges from the fact that recent experimental evidence in both psychology and economics suggests that certain decisions made under risk respond to reference points.We develop a theory within the traditional streamof rational choices, whereby the references are set by only observable variables, such as prices and family size. According to this theory, extremely poor individuals respond to the income reference that guarantees the consumption of the necessary calories so as to ensure a healthy and longer life. Being in the neighborhood of this reference can incentivize both the seeking of high risk, whenever below the reference, and an aversion to high risk, when above. An experimental exercise was conducted involving 92 individuals from households living in poverty and extreme poverty wherein they participated in a baseline risk experiment that was the one we analyzed. Inasmuch as the treatment was not randomly assigned, but instead was determined based on households’ per-capita incomes, a quasi-experimental approach was used to analyze the results. We use a regression discontinuity design, andfind evidence suggesting that being presented with the opportunity of avoiding undernourishmentsignificantly decreases a household’s risk aversion.
|Date of creation:||15 Nov 2010|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| |
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2007.
"The Economic Lives of the Poor,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 141-168, Winter.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
- Harry Markowitz, 1952. "The Utility of Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 151.
- Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2010.
"Aging and Death under a Dollar a Day,"
in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 169-203
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Zuleta Hernando, 2008.
"Poor People and Risky Business,"
Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy,
De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-18, April.
- David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010.
"Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
- Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279.
- Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
- Jonathan Morduch, 1995.
"Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 103-114, Summer.
- Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1727, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Morduch, J., 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Papers 512, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
- Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2001. "Anomalies: Risk Aversion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 219-232, Winter.
- Austin Nichols, 2007. "RD: Stata module for regression discontinuity estimation," Statistical Software Components S456888, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 30 Sep 2016.
- Abigail Barr & Garance Genicot, 2007.
"Risk Sharing, Commitment and Information: An experimental analysis,"
CSAE Working Paper Series
2007-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
- Abigail Barr & Garance Genicot, 2008. "Risk Sharing, Commitment, and Information: An Experimental Analysis," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(6), pages 1151-1185, December.
- George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
- 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 557-71, March.
- Elijah, Obayelu Abiodun & Uffort, Larry, 2007. "Comparative Analysis of the Relationship Between Poverty and Underground economy in the Highly developed, Transition and Developing Countries," MPRA Paper 2054, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey Carpenter, 2008.
"Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World,"
Journal of Development Studies,
Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 311-338.
- Jeffery Carpenter & Juan Camilo Cardenas, 2006. "Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from field labs in the developing world," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0616, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
- Masson, Robert T, 1974. "Utility Functions with Jump Discontinuities: Some Evidence and Implications from Peasant Agriculture," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(4), pages 559-66, December.
- A. Sandmo, 1970. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Saving Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(3), pages 353-360.
- Masatlioglu, Yusufcan & Ok, Efe A., 2005. "Rational choice with status quo bias," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 1-29, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:col:000089:007717. 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: (Universidad De Los Andes-Cede)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.