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On the Stability of Preferences: Repercussions of Entrepreneurship on Risk Attitudes

  • Matthias Brachert
  • Walter Hyll

The majority of empirical studies make use of the assumption of stable preferences in searching for a relationship between risk attitude and the decision to become and stay an entrepreneur. Yet empirical evidence on this relationship is limited. In this paper, we show that entry into entrepreneurship itself plays a decisive role in shaping risk preferences. We find that becoming self-employed is indeed associated with a relative increase in risk attitudes, an increase that is quantitatively large and significant even after controlling for individual characteristics, different employment status, and duration of entrepreneurship. The findings suggest that studies assuming that risk attitudes are stable over time suffer from reverse causality; risk attitudes do not remain stable over time, and individual preferences change endogenously.

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Paper provided by Halle Institute for Economic Research in its series IWH Discussion Papers with number 5.

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Date of creation: Apr 2014
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Handle: RePEc:iwh:dispap:5-14
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  1. Sarasvathy, D. K. & Simon, Herbert A. & Lave, Lester, 1998. "Perceiving and managing business risks: differences between entrepreneurs and bankers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 207-225, January.
  2. Cramer, J. S. & Hartog, J. & Jonker, N. & Van Praag, C. M., 2002. "Low risk aversion encourages the choice for entrepreneurship: an empirical test of a truism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 29-36, May.
  3. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
  4. Saras Sarasvathy & Anil Menon & Graciela Kuechle, 2013. "Failing firms and successful entrepreneurs: serial entrepreneurship as a temporal portfolio," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 417-434, February.
  5. Ahn, Taehyun, 2010. "Attitudes toward risk and self-employment of young workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 434-442, April.
  6. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-93, September.
  7. Janney, Jay J. & Dess, Gregory G., 2006. "The risk concept for entrepreneurs reconsidered: New challenges to the conventional wisdom," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 385-400, May.
  8. 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.
  9. Audretsch, David B. & Keilbach, Max C. & Lehmann, Erik E., 2006. "Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195183511, December.
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