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Risk Attitudes and Well-Being in Latin America

Author

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  • Cardenas, Juan Camilo

    () (Universidad de los Andes)

  • Carpenter, Jeffrey P.

    () (Middlebury College)

Abstract

A common premise in both the theoretical and policy literatures on development is that people remain poor because they are too impatient to save and too risk averse to take the sort of chances needed to accumulate wealth. The empirical literature, however, suggests that this assumption is far from proven. We report on field experiments designed to address many of the issues confounding previous analyses of the links between risk preferences and well-being. Our sample includes more than 3,000 participants who were drawn representatively from six Latin American cities: Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Lima, Montevideo, San José. In addition to the experiment which reveals interesting cross-country differences, participants completed an extensive survey that provides data on a variety of well-being indicators and a number of important controls. Focusing on risk preferences, we find little evidence of robust links between risk aversion and well-being. However, when we analyze the results of three treatments designed to better reflect common choices made under uncertainty, we see that these, more subtle, instruments correlate better with well-being, even after controlling for a variety of other important factors like the accumulation of human capital and access to credit.

Suggested Citation

  • Cardenas, Juan Camilo & Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2010. "Risk Attitudes and Well-Being in Latin America," IZA Discussion Papers 5279, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5279
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Engle Warnick James C. & Escobal Javier & Laszlo Sonia C., 2011. "Ambiguity Aversion and Portfolio Choice in Small-Scale Peruvian Farming," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-56, November.
    2. Antoni Bosch & Joaquim Silvestre, 2003. "Do the Wealthy Risk More Money? An Experimental Comparison," Working Papers 10, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Naranjo, Maria A., 2011. "The effect of ambiguous risk, and coordination on farmers' adaptation to climate change — A framed field experiment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2317-2326.
    2. Jeffrey Carpenter & Justin Garcia & J. Lum, 2011. "Dopamine receptor genes predict risk preferences, time preferences, and related economic choices," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 233-261, June.
    3. Philip J. Grossman, 2013. "Holding Fast: The Persistence And Dominance Of Gender Stereotypes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 747-763, January.
    4. Luis Roberto Martínez & Christian Jaramillo & Nicolas De Roux & Juan-Camilo Cárdenas, 2010. "It´s Not My Money: An Experiment on Risk Aversion and the House-money Effect," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 006712, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    5. Jeffrey Carpenter & Tyler Williams, 2010. "Moral hazard, peer monitoring, and microcredit: field experimental evidence from Paraguay," Working Papers 10-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    risk aversion; ambiguity aversion; loss aversion; risk pooling; well-being; Latin America;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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