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The Role of Risk Aversion in Predicting Individual Behaviours

  • Guiso, Luigi
  • Paiella, Monica

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 C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4591.

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Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4591
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  1. Christopher D Carroll, 2000. "Portfolios of the Rich," Economics Working Paper Archive 430, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Guiso, Luigi & Paiella, Monica, 2001. "Risk Aversion, Wealth and Background Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 2728, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. 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).
  5. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2006. "Entrepreneurship, Frictions, and Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 835-870, October.
  6. 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.
  7. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
  8. 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.
  9. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2549, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Guvenen, Fatih, 2006. "Reconciling conflicting evidence on the elasticity of intertemporal substitution: A macroeconomic perspective," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1451-1472, October.
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  12. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2002. "Does Local Financial Development Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3307, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Jonathan S. Skinner, 1987. "Risky Income, Life Cycle Consumption, and Precautionary Savings," NBER Working Papers 2336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:2:p:537-79 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:3:p:929-969 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Giucca, P. & Jappelli, T. & Terlizzese, D., 1992. "Earning Uncertainty and Precautionary Saving," Papers 161, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  19. Daveri, Francesco & Faini, Riccardo, 1999. "Where Do Migrants Go?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(4), pages 595-622, October.
  20. Miles S. Kimball, 1991. "Standard Risk Aversion," NBER Technical Working Papers 0099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Brunello, Giorgio, 2002. "Absolute risk aversion and the returns to education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 635-640, December.
  22. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
  23. DREZE, Jacques H. & MODIGLIANI, Franco, . "Cosumption decisions under uncertainty," CORE Discussion Papers RP 119, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  24. 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.
  25. Miles S. Kimball, 1991. "Precautionary Motives for Holding Assets," NBER Working Papers 3586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "Earnings Uncertainty and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 859-71, September.
  27. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1994. "Income Risk, Borrowing Constraints and Portfolio Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 888, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Pratt, John W & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1987. "Proper Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 143-54, January.
  31. 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.
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