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The Relationship between Unemployment and Risk-Aversion


  • Diaz-Serrano, Luis

    () (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)

  • O'Neill, Donal

    () (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)


In this paper we use a direct measure of individual risk-aversion to examine the relationship between risk-aversion and unemployment. The traditional search model predicts that more risk-averse individuals have lower reservation wages and thus are less likely to be observed in unemployment. Our findings, however, do not support this prediction: on the contrary our data suggest that more risk-averse individuals are more likely to be unemployed.

Suggested Citation

  • Diaz-Serrano, Luis & O'Neill, Donal, 2004. "The Relationship between Unemployment and Risk-Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 1214, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1214

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2008. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(6), pages 1109-1150, December.
    2. Hartog, Joop & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Jonker, Nicole, 2002. "Linking Measured Risk Aversion to Individual Characteristics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 3-26.
    3. Feinberg, Robert M, 1977. "Risk Aversion, Risk, and the Duration of Unemployment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(3), pages 264-271, August.
    4. Lippman, Steven A & McCall, John J, 1976. "The Economics of Job Search: A Survey," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(3), pages 347-368, September.
    5. Nachman, David C., 1975. "Risk aversion, impatience, and optimal timing decisions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 196-246, October.
    6. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Earnings and Employment Risk," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 241-253, April.
    7. Shaw, Kathryn L, 1996. "An Empirical Analysis of Risk Aversion and Income Growth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 626-653, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Foreman-Peck, James & Moore, Simon C., 2010. "Gratuitous violence and the rational offender model," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 160-172, June.
    3. Caliendo, Marco & Künn, Steffen & Weißenberger, Martin, 2016. "Personality traits and the evaluation of start-up subsidies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 87-108.
    4. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Jurgen Schupp & Uwe Sunde & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual risk attitudes: New evidence from a large, representative, experimentally-validated survey," Framed Field Experiments 00140, The Field Experiments Website.
    5. Decker, Simon & Schmitz, Hendrik, 2016. "Health shocks and risk aversion," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 156-170.
    6. Ding, Xiaohao & Hartog, Joop & Sun, Yuze, 2010. "Can We Measure Individual Risk Attitudes in a Survey?," IZA Discussion Papers 4807, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    unemployment; job-search; risk-aversion;

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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