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Stability of risk preference

  • Claudia R. Sahm

Stability of preferences is central to how economists study behavior. This paper uses panel data on hypothetical gambles over lifetime income in the Health and Retirement Study to quantify changes in risk tolerance over time and differences across individuals. The maximum-likelihood estimation of a correlated random effects model utilizes information from 12,000 respondents in the 1992-2002 HRS. The results support constant relative risk aversion and career selection on preferences. While risk tolerance changes with age and macroeconomic conditions, persistent differences across individuals account for 73% of the systematic variation. The measure of risk tolerance also relates to actual stock ownership.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2007-66.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2007-66
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  1. Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln & Matthias Schündeln, 2005. "Precautionary Savings and Self-Selection: Evidence from the German Reunification "Experiment"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1085-1120, August.
  2. Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0012001, EconWPA.
  3. Kimball, Miles S & Sahm, Claudia R & Shapiro, Matthew D, 2008. "Imputing Risk Tolerance From Survey Responses," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(483), pages 1028-1038.
  4. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
  5. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2012. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 645-677.
  6. Bronwyn Hall & Jacques Mairesse & Laure Turner, 2005. "Identifying Age, Cohort and Period Effects in Scientific Research Productivity : Discussion and Illustration Using Simulated and Actual Data on French Physicists," Working Papers 2005-22, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  7. James P. Smith, 2003. "Consequences and Predictors of New Health Events," NBER Working Papers 10063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
  10. Donkers, Bas & Melenberg, Bertrand & Van Soest, Arthur, 2001. " Estimating Risk Attitudes Using Lotteries: A Large Sample Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 165-95, March.
  11. Lee Lillard & Robert J. Willis, 2001. "Cognition and Wealth: The Importance of Probabilistic Thinking," Working Papers wp007, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  12. Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln & Matthias Schundeln, 2005. "Precautionary Savings and Self-Selection - Evidence from the German Reunification "Experiment"," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2069, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Melvin Stephens, 2001. "The Long-Run Consumption Effects Of Earnings Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 28-36, February.
  14. E. Philip Howrey, 2001. "The Predictive Power of the Index of Consumer Sentiment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 175-216.
  15. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  16. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1991. "Are Workers Permanently Scarred by Job Displacements?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 319-24, March.
  17. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
  18. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Stefan Nagel, 2006. "Do Wealth Fluctuations Generate Time-varying Risk Aversion? Micro-Evidence on Individuals' Asset Allocation," NBER Working Papers 12809, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
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