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An Alternative Explanation for the Variation in Reported Estimates of Risk Aversion

Author

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  • Conniffe, Denis

    () (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

  • O'Neill, Donal

    () (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

Abstract

There is a large literature estimating Arrow-Pratt coefficients of absolute and relative risk aversion. A striking feature of this literature is the very wide variation in the reported estimates of the coefficients. While there are often legitimate reasons for these differences in the estimates, there is another source of variation that has not been considered to date. The Arrow-Pratt coefficients are properties of the utility functions, but a number of estimates are obtained by equating these to risk aversion measures defined in a mean-variance framework. This paper shows that while the legitimacy of the mean-variance approach may hold under general conditions the additional assumptions invoked when estimating the risk aversion parameter hold only in very restricted circumstances and that serious under or over estimation can easily arise as a result.

Suggested Citation

  • Conniffe, Denis & O'Neill, Donal, 2012. "An Alternative Explanation for the Variation in Reported Estimates of Risk Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 6877, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6877
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. M. S. Feldstein, 1969. "Mean-Variance Analysis in the Theory of Liquidity Preference and Portfolio Selection," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(1), pages 5-12.
    2. Salem, A B Z & Mount, T D, 1974. "A Convenient Descriptive Model of Income Distribution: The Gamma Density," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(6), pages 1115-1127, November.
    3. Engel, Charles & Rodrigues, Anthony P, 1989. "Tests of International CAPM with Time-Varying Covariances," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 4(2), pages 119-138, April-Jun.
    4. Thomas Flavin, 2006. "How risk averse are fund managers? Evidence from Irish mutual funds," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(18), pages 1355-1363.
    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. Donald Meyer & Jack Meyer, 2005. "Relative Risk Aversion: What Do We Know?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 243-262, December.
    7. Meyer, Jack, 1987. "Two-moment Decision Models and Expected Utility Maximization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 421-430, June.
    8. Friend, Irwin & Blume, Marshall E, 1975. "The Demand for Risky Assets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 900-922, December.
    9. Levy, H & Markowtiz, H M, 1979. "Approximating Expected Utility by a Function of Mean and Variance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 308-317, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Neustroev, Dmitry, 2013. "The Uzawa-Lucas Growth Model with Natural Resources," MPRA Paper 52937, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    location scale; mean-variance estimation; variability in risk aversion estimation;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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