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Risk Preferences of Children and Adolescents in Relation to Gender, Cognitive Skills, Soft Skills, and Executive Functions

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  • James Andreoni
  • Amalia Di Girolamo
  • John List
  • Claire Mackevicius
  • Anya Samek

Abstract

We conduct experiments eliciting risk preferences with over 1,400 children and adolescents aged 3-15 years old. We complement our data with an assessment of cognitive and executive function skills. First, we find that adolescent girls display significantly greater risk aversion than adolescent boys. This pattern is not observed among young children, suggesting that the risk gap in risk preferences emerges in early adolescence. Second, we find that at all ages in our study, cognitive skills (specifically math ability) are positively associated with risk taking. Executive functions among children, and soft skills among adolescents, are negatively associated with risk taking. Third, we find that greater risk-tolerance is associated with higher likelihood of disciplinary referrals, which provides evidence that our task is equipped to measure a relevant behavioral outcome. For academics, our research provides a deeper understanding of the developmental origins of risk preferences and highlights the important role of cognitive and executive function skills to better understand the association between risk preferences and cognitive abilities over the studied age range.

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  • James Andreoni & Amalia Di Girolamo & John List & Claire Mackevicius & Anya Samek, 2019. "Risk Preferences of Children and Adolescents in Relation to Gender, Cognitive Skills, Soft Skills, and Executive Functions," Artefactual Field Experiments 00668, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00668
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    2. Lucks, Konstantin E. & Luhrmann, Melanie & Winter, Joachim, 2020. "Assortative matching and social interaction: A field experiment on adolescents' risky choices," Munich Reprints in Economics 84741, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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    6. Lucks, Konstantin E. & Lührmann, Melanie & Winter, Joachim, 2020. "Assortative matching and social interaction: A field experiment on adolescents’ risky choices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 313-340.
    7. Alaoui, Larbi & Fons-Rosen, Christian, 2021. "Know when to fold’em: The flip side of grit," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
    8. Holzmann, Robert & Ayuso, Mercedes & Alaminos, Estefanía & Bravo, Jorge Miguel, 2019. "Life Cycle Saving and Dissaving Revisited across Three-Tiered Income Groups: Starting Hypotheses, Refinement through Literature Review, and Ideas for Empirical Testing," IZA Discussion Papers 12655, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Charness, Gary & List, John A. & Rustichini, Aldo & Samek, Anya & Van De Ven, Jeroen, 2019. "Theory of mind among disadvantaged children: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 174-194.
    10. Samek, Anya & Gray, Andre & Datar, Ashlesha & Nicosia, Nancy, 2021. "Adolescent time and risk preferences: Measurement, determinants and field consequences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 460-488.
    11. Heleen Hofmeyr, 2020. "South Africa’s Pro-Girl Gap in PIRLS and TIMSS: How Much Can Be Explained?," Working Papers 17/2020, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    12. Hiroyuki Yamada & Yuki Kanayama & Kanako Yoshikawa & Kyaw Wai Aung, 2020. "Risk attitude, risky behavior, and price determination in the sex market: A case study of Yangon, Myanmar," Keio-IES Discussion Paper Series 2020-013, Institute for Economics Studies, Keio University.
    13. Isabelle Brocas & Juan Carrillo, 2022. "The centipede game at school: does developing backward induction logic drive behavior?," Artefactual Field Experiments 00761, The Field Experiments Website.
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    15. Shelly Lundberg, 2020. "Educational gender gaps," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 87(2), pages 416-439, October.
    16. Marco Castillo & John A. List & Ragan Petrie & Anya Samek, 2020. "Detecting Drivers of Behavior at an Early Age: Evidence from a Longitudinal Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 28288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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