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Risk Attitude in Couples


  • Philomena M. Bacon

    (Department of Economics, Lancaster University Management School, United Kingdom)

  • Anna Conte

    (Strategic Interaction Group, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, and EQM Department, University of Westminster, London)

  • Peter G. Moffatt

    () (School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom)


The determinants of risk attitude in couples are explored using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel over the period 2004 to 2009. The focus of the analysis is the repeated responses to the survey question about general willingness to take risk. Responses to this question are provided on a 0-10 Likert scale. We focus on couples in the data set, and we apply the bivariate panel ordered probit model to the analysis of the simultaneous determination of the male's and the female's risk attitude. A number of individual characteristics, including age, height, education and household income, are found to have strong effects on risk attitude, in some cases differing markedly between the male and the female. Both the individual-specific effects and the observation-specific error terms are assumed to have non-zero correlations between the two equations. These correlations are estimated to be +0.27 and +0.28 respectively. We consider the former to be a key parameter, since its positive sign may be interpreted as a form of homophily: individuals tend to form partnerships with others having a similar risk attitude.

Suggested Citation

  • Philomena M. Bacon & Anna Conte & Peter G. Moffatt, 2012. "Risk Attitude in Couples," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-016, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2012-016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Clark, Andrew E. & Etile, Fabrice, 2006. "Don't give up on me baby: Spousal correlation in smoking behaviour," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 958-978, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Daniela Di Cagno & Emanuela Sciubba & Marco Spallone, 2012. "Choosing a gambling partner: testing a model of mutual insurance in the lab," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 72(4), pages 537-571, April.
    4. Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2009. "I can't smile without you: Spousal correlation in life satisfaction," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 675-689, August.
    5. Guillaume R. Frechette, 2001. "Random-effects ordered probit," Stata Technical Bulletin, StataCorp LP, vol. 10(59).
    6. Ekelund, Jesper & Johansson, Edvard & Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta & Lichtermann, Dirk, 2005. "Self-employment and risk aversion--evidence from psychological test data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 649-659, October.
    7. Masclet, David & Colombier, Nathalie & Denant-Boemont, Laurent & Lohéac, Youenn, 2009. "Group and individual risk preferences: A lottery-choice experiment with self-employed and salaried workers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 470-484, June.
    8. Ian Bateman & Alistair Munro, 2005. "An Experiment on Risky Choice Amongst Households," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages 176-189, March.
    9. Guillaume R. Frechette, 2001. "Update to random-effects ordered probit," Stata Technical Bulletin, StataCorp LP, vol. 10(61).
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    More about this item


    Multiple Equation Models; Panel Data; Risk Attitude;

    JEL classification:

    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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