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The Nature of Risk Preferences: Evidence from Insurance Choices

  • Barseghyan, Levon

    (Cornell University)

  • Molinari, Francesca

    (Cornell University)

  • O'Donoghue, Ted

    (Cornell University)

  • Teitelbaum, Joshua C.

    (Georgetown University)

We use data on households' deductible choices in auto and home insurance to estimate a structural model of risky choice that incorporates "standard" risk aversion (concave utility over final wealth), loss aversion, and nonlinear probability weighting. Our estimates indicate that nonlinear probability weighting plays the most important role in explaining the data. More specifically, we find that standard risk aversion is small, loss aversion is nonexistent, and nonlinear probability weighting is large. When we estimate restricted models, we find that nonlinear probability weighting alone can better explain the data than standard risk aversion alone, loss aversion alone, and standard risk aversion and loss aversion combined. Our main findings are robust to a variety of modeling assumptions.

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Paper provided by Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics in its series Working Papers with number 11-03.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:11-03
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  1. Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié, 1997. "Estimating Preferences under Risk : The Case of Racetrack Bettors," Working Papers 97-39, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  2. Hey, John D & Orme, Chris, 1994. "Investigating Generalizations of Expected Utility Theory Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1291-1326, November.
  3. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  4. Snowberg, Erik & Wolfers, Justin, 2010. "Explaining the Favorite-Longshot Bias: Is it Risk-Love or Misperceptions?," IZA Discussion Papers 4884, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Loomes, G. & Moffatt, P.G. & Sugden, R., 1998. "A Microeconometric Test of Alternative Stochastic Theories of Risky Choice," University of East Anglia Discussion Papers in Economics 9806, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  6. Levon Barseghyan & Jeffrey Prince & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2011. "Are Risk Preferences Stable across Contexts? Evidence from Insurance Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 591-631, April.
  7. David Schmeidler, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7662, David K. Levine.
  8. Adrian Bruhin & Helga Fehr-Duda & Thomas Epper, 2010. "Risk and Rationality: Uncovering Heterogeneity in Probability Distortion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1375-1412, 07.
  9. Thierry Post & Martijn J. van den Assem & Guido Baltussen & Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Deal or No Deal? Decision Making under Risk in a Large-Payoff Game Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 38-71, March.
  10. Alma Cohen & Peter Siegelman, 2009. "Testing for Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets," NBER Working Papers 15586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jaap H. Abbring & James J. Heckman & Pierre-André Chiappori & Jean Pinquet, 2003. "Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard In Insurance: Can Dynamic Data Help to Distinguish?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 512-521, 04/05.
  12. Kliger, Doron & Levy, Ori, 2009. "Theories of choice under risk: Insights from financial markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 330-346, August.
  13. Harless, David W & Camerer, Colin F, 1994. "The Predictive Utility of Generalized Expected Utility Theories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1251-89, November.
  14. 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.
  15. Jaap H. Abbring & Pierre-Andre Chiappori, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Dynamic Insurance Data," 2004 Meeting Papers 316, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Syngjoo Choi & Raymond Fisman & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2007. "Consistency and Heterogeneity of Individual Behavior under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1921-1938, December.
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