IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

On the Stability of Risk Preferences: Measurement Matters


  • Adema, Joop

    (University of Munich)

  • Nikolka, Till

    (German Youth Institute (DJI))

  • Poutvaara, Panu

    (University of Munich)

  • Sunde, Uwe

    (University of Munich)


We exploit the unique design of a repeated survey experiment among students in four countries to explore the stability of risk preferences in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Relative to a baseline before the pandemic, we find that self-assessed willingness to take risks decreased while the willingness to take risks in an incentivized lottery task increased, for the same sample of respondents. These findings suggest domain specificity of preferences that is partly reflected in the different measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Adema, Joop & Nikolka, Till & Poutvaara, Panu & Sunde, Uwe, 2021. "On the Stability of Risk Preferences: Measurement Matters," IZA Discussion Papers 14755, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14755

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, June.
    2. Pamela Jakiela & Owen Ozier, 2019. "The Impact of Violence on Individual Risk Preferences: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(3), pages 547-559, July.
    3. Dohmen, Thomas & Lehmann, Hartmut & Pignatti, Norberto, 2016. "Time-varying individual risk attitudes over the Great Recession: A comparison of Germany and Ukraine," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 182-200.
    4. Cassar, Alessandra & Healy, Andrew & von Kessler, Carl, 2017. "Trust, Risk, and Time Preferences After a Natural Disaster: Experimental Evidence from Thailand," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 90-105.
    5. Jason Shachat & Matthew J. Walker & Lijia Wei, 2021. "The Impact of an Epidemic: Experimental Evidence on Preference Stability from Wuhan," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 111, pages 302-306, May.
    6. Armin Falk & Anke Becker & Thomas Dohmen & Benjamin Enke & David B. Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2017. "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences," NBER Working Papers 23943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Armin Falk & Anke Becker & Thomas Dohmen & Benjamin Enke & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2018. "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(4), pages 1645-1692.
    8. Decker, Simon & Schmitz, Hendrik, 2016. "Health shocks and risk aversion," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 156-170.
    9. Frondel, Manuel & Osberghaus, Daniel & Sommer, Stephan, 2021. "Corona and the stability of personal traits and preferences: Evidence from Germany," Ruhr Economic Papers 903, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    10. Chie Hanaoka & Hitoshi Shigeoka & Yasutora Watanabe, 2018. "Do Risk Preferences Change? Evidence from the Great East Japan Earthquake," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 298-330, April.
    11. Angrisani, Marco & Cipriani, Marco & Guarino, Antonio & Kendall, Ryan & Ortiz de Zarate Pina, Julen, 2020. "Risk Preferences at the Time of COVID-19: An Experiment with Professional Traders and Students," CEPR Discussion Papers 15108, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, 2018. "Are Risk Preferences Stable?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 135-154, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Thilo K.G. Haverkamp & Heinz Welsch & Andreas Ziegler, 2022. "The Relationship between Pro-environmental Behavior, Economic Preferences, and Life Satisfaction: Empirical Evidence from Germany," MAGKS Papers on Economics 202204, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    2. Blayac, Thierry & Dubois, Dimitri & Duchêne, Sébastien & Nguyen-Van, Phu & Ventelou, Bruno & Willinger, Marc, 2022. "What drives the acceptability of restrictive health policies: An experimental assessment of individual preferences for anti-COVID 19 strategies," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga, 2022. "On the stability of risk and time preferences amid the COVID-19 pandemic," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 25(3), pages 759-794, June.
    2. Delphine Boutin & Laurène Petifour & Haris Megzari, 2022. "Instability of preferences due to Covid-19 Crisis and emotions: a natural experiment from urban Burkina Faso," Working Papers hal-03623601, HAL.
    3. Dietmar Fehr & Yannick Reichlin, 2021. "Status, Control Beliefs, and Risk Taking," CESifo Working Paper Series 9253, CESifo.
    4. Delphine BOUTIN & Laurène PETIFOUR & Haris MEGZARI, 2022. "Instability of preferences due to Covid-19 Crisis and emotions: a natural experiment from urban Burkina Faso," Bordeaux Economics Working Papers 2022-05, Bordeaux School of Economics (BSE).
    5. Marino Fages, Diego & Morales Cerda, Matías, 2022. "Migration and social preferences," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 218(C).
    6. Kettlewell, Nathan, 2019. "Risk preference dynamics around life events," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 66-84.
    7. Esteban J. Quiñones & Sabine Liebenehm & Rasadhika Sharma, "undated". "Left Home High and Dry-Reduced Migration in Response to Repeated Droughts in Thailand and Vietnam," Mathematica Policy Research Reports ac2ba236e1b8428fbeb6d8b43, Mathematica Policy Research.
    8. Fang, Guanfu & Li, Wei & Zhu, Ying, 2022. "The shadow of the epidemic: Long-term impacts of meningitis exposure on risk preference and behaviors," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 157(C).
    9. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Mena, Gary & Nimczik, Jan & Sunde, Uwe, 2019. "Personality Traits Across the Life Cycle: Disentangling Age, Period, and Cohort Effects," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 214, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    10. Pushkar Maitra & Ananta Neelim, 2021. "Behavioural characteristics, stability of preferences and entrepreneurial success," Chapters, in: Ananish Chaudhuri (ed.), A Research Agenda for Experimental Economics, chapter 5, pages 93-118, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Abdelaziz Alsharawy & Sheryl Ball & Alec Smith & Ross Spoon, 2021. "Fear of COVID-19 changes economic preferences: evidence from a repeated cross-sectional MTurk survey," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 7(2), pages 103-119, December.
    12. Bu, Di & Hanspal, Tobin & Liao, Yin & Liu, Yong, 2021. "Risk taking, preferences, and beliefs: Evidence from Wuhan," SAFE Working Paper Series 301, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    13. Aragón, Fernando M. & Molina, Oswaldo & Outes-León, Ingo W., 2020. "Property rights and risk aversion: Evidence from a titling program," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    14. Sepahvand, Mohammad H & Shahbazian, Roujman & Bali Swain, Ranjula, 2018. "Does revolution change risk attitudes? Evidence from Burkina Faso," Working Paper Series 2019:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    15. Ayton, Peter & Bernile, Gennaro & Bucciol, Alessandro & Zarri, Luca, 2020. "The impact of life experiences on risk taking," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    16. Tim Friehe & Markus Pannenberg, 2020. "Time preferences and political regimes: evidence from reunified Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(1), pages 349-387, January.
    17. Harry Pickard & Thomas Dohmen & Bert Van Landeghem, 2022. "Inequality and risk preference," Working Papers 2022022, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    18. Freitas-Monteiro, Teresa & Ludolph, Lars, 2021. "Barriers to humanitarian migration, victimisation and integration outcomes: evidence from Germany," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 110500, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Guido Blasio & Maria Paola & Samuele Poy & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2021. "Massive earthquakes, risk aversion, and entrepreneurship," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 57(1), pages 295-322, June.
    20. Beine, Michel & Charness, Gary & Dupuy, Arnaud & Joxhe, Majlinda, 2020. "Shaking Things Up: On the Stability of Risk and Time Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 13084, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    stability of risk preferences; measurement of risk aversion; COVID-19;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G50 - Financial Economics - - Household Finance - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14755. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Holger Hinte (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.