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Risk Aversion and Expected Utility of Consumption over Time

  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof

    ()

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

The calibration theorem by Rabin (2000) implies that seemingly plausible smallstake choices under risk imply implausible large-stake risk aversion. This theorem is derived based on the expected utility of wealth model. However, Cox and Sadiraj (2006) show that such implications do not follow from the expected utility of income model. One may then wonder about the implications for more applied consumption analysis. The present paper therefore expresses utility as a function of consumption in a standard life cycle model, and illustrates the implications of this model with experimental small- and intermediate-stake risk data from Holt and Laury (2002). The results suggest implausible risk aversion parameters as well as unreasonable implications for long term risky choices. Thus, the conventional intertemporal consumption model under risk appears to be inconsistent with the data.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/19795
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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 351.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 06 Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0351
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/

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  1. Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio & Serrano, Roberto, 2006. "Rejecting small gambles under expected utility," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 250-259, May.
  2. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2007. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark: A Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 341-368, 06.
  3. Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Diminishing Marginal Utility of Wealth Cannot Explain Risk Aversion," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt61d7b4pg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, 2008. "Risky Decisions in the Large and in the Small: Theory and Experiment," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2008-01, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  5. Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2002. "Response [Anomalies: Risk Aversion]," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 229-230, Spring.
  6. Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Risk Aversion and Expected Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7667, David K. Levine.
  7. Ariel Rubinstein, 2004. "Dilemmas of An Economic Theorist," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 354, Econometric Society.
  8. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 42-71, March.
  9. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  10. Gomes, Francisco J & Michaelides, Alexander, 2005. "Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 4853, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Attanasio, O.P. & Browning, M.J., 1993. "Consumption over the life cycle and over the business cycle," Discussion Paper 1993-14, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  12. Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "Limited Asset Market Participation and the Elasticity of Intertemporal Substitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 825-853, August.
  13. 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.
  14. Heinemann, Frank, 2005. "Measuring Risk Aversion and the Wealth Effect," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 156, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  15. Richard Blundell & Martin Browning & Costas Meghir, 1993. "Consumer demand and the life-cycle allocation of household expenditures," IFS Working Papers W93/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  16. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  17. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, . "Small- and Large-Stakes Risk Aversion: Implications of Concavity Calibration for Decision Theory," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-03, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  18. Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2001. "Anomalies: Risk Aversion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 219-232, Winter.
  19. Laura Schechter, 2007. "Risk aversion and expected-utility theory: A calibration exercise," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 67-76, August.
  20. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
  21. Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2010. "Risk aversion and expected utility of consumption over time," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 208-219, January.
  22. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Individual Preferences, Monetary Gambles, and Stock Market Participation: A Case for Narrow Framing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1069-1090, September.
  23. Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
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