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Risk Aversion and Planning Horizon


  • Bommier, Antoine
  • Rochet, Jean-Charles


A number of empirical studies seem to reject the additive separability of preferences that is assumed in most theoretical models of the life cycle. We show that, when additive separability is abandoned and interactions between consumptions at different dates are taken into account, an interesting relation emerges between risk aversion and length of the planning horizon.Specifically, we show that when consumptions at different dates are specific substitutes, risk aversion increases with horizon length. This may explain the surprising empirical finding that individuals seem to increase the share of wealth held in risky assets as they become older. (JEL: D11, D91, G11) Copyright (c) 2006 by the European Economic Association.
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Suggested Citation

  • Bommier, Antoine & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2003. "Risk Aversion and Planning Horizon," IDEI Working Papers 204, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Nov 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:3411

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Karni, Edi, 1983. "On the correspondence between multivariate risk aversion and risk aversion with state-dependent preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 230-242, August.
    2. W. M. Gorman, 1968. "The Structure of Utility Functions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(4), pages 367-390.
    3. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-1085, December.
    4. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
    5. Robert B. Barsky & F. Thomas Juster & Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-579.
    6. Merton, Robert C, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 247-257, August.
    7. Karen E. Dynan, 2000. "Habit Formation in Consumer Preferences: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 391-406, June.
    8. Browning, Martin, 1991. "A Simple Nonadditive Preference Structure for Models of Household Behavior over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 607-637, June.
    9. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 185-200, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Skander J. van den Heuvel, 2008. "Temporal risk aversion and asset prices," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-37, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Anne Lavigne, 2006. "Gouvernance et investissement des fonds de pension privés aux Etats-Unis," Working Papers halshs-00081401, HAL.
    3. Frederick Ploeg, 2010. "Political economy of prudent budgetary policy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 17(3), pages 295-314, June.
    4. Antoine Bommier, 2010. "Portfolio Choice under Uncertain Lifetime," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(1), pages 57-73, February.
    5. Antoine Bommier, 2008. "Rational Impatience ?," Working Papers hal-00441880, HAL.
    6. Frédéric Gonand, 2006. "Réforme des retraites, marchés financiers et investissement socialement responsable : les affinités électives," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 85(4), pages 285-294.
    7. van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2009. "Prudent monetary policy and prediction of the output gap," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 217-230, June.
    8. Ton S. van den Bremer & Frederick van der Ploeg, 2012. "How to Spend a Windfall: Dealing with volatility and capital scarcity," OxCarre Working Papers 085, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    9. Brian Lucey & Charles Larkin, 2012. "Risk Tolerance and Demographic Characteristics: Preliminary Irish Evidence," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp406, IIIS.
    10. Antoine Bommier, 2006. "Mortality, Time Preference and Life-Cycle Models," Working Papers hal-00441888, HAL.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions


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