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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:11-03
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  1. 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..
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  3. 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.
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  6. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  7. Jaap H. Abbring & Pierre-Andre Chiappori, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Dynamic Insurance Data," 2004 Meeting Papers 316, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  9. Erik Snowberg & Justin Wolfers, 2010. "Explaining the Favorite-Long Shot Bias: Is it Risk-Love or Misperceptions?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 723-746, 08.
  10. Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521766555, October.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Jean Pinquet & Pierre-André Chiappori & Jaap Abbring & James J Heckman, 2003. "Adverse selection and moral hazard in insurance: can dynamic data help to distinguish?," Post-Print hal-00397115, HAL.
  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.
  17. Jean Pinquet & Jaap Abbring & Pierre-André Chiappori, 2003. "Moral Hazard and Dynamic Insurance Data," Post-Print hal-00397121, HAL.
  18. Adrian Bruhin & Helga Fehr-Duda & Thomas Epper, 2007. "Risk and Rationality: Uncovering Heterogeneity in Probability Distortion," SOI - Working Papers 0705, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich, revised Jul 2007.
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