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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. 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.
  2. Merton, Robert C., 1971. "Optimum consumption and portfolio rules in a continuous-time model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 373-413, December.
  3. Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2009. "Risk Aversion and Expected Utility of Consumption over Time," Working Papers in Economics 351, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  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. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Roberto Serrano & Oscar Volij, 2003. "Rejecting Small Gambles Under Expected Utility," Economics Working Papers 0032, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  6. Ariel Rubinstein, 2006. "Dilemmas of an Economic Theorist," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(4), pages 865-883, 07.
  7. 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.
  8. Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0012001, EconWPA.
  9. Blundell, Richard & Browning, Martin & Meghir, Costas, 1994. "Consumer Demand and the Life-Cycle Allocation of Household Expenditures," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 57-80, January.
  10. Cox, James C. & Sadiraj, Vjollca, 2006. "Small- and large-stakes risk aversion: Implications of concavity calibration for decision theory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 45-60, July.
  11. 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.
  12. Orazio P. Attanasio & Martin Browning, 1993. "Consumption over the Life Cycle and over the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 4453, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Francisco Gomes & Alexander Michaelides, 2005. "Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 869-904, 04.
  14. Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
  15. Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Diminishing Marginal Utility of Wealth Cannot Explain Risk Aversion," Game Theory and Information 0012002, EconWPA.
  16. Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2001. "Anomalies: Risk Aversion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 219-232, Winter.
  17. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2002. "Response [Anomalies: Risk Aversion]," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 229-230, Spring.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
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