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Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants and behavioral consequences

Author

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  • Dohmen, Thomas J.
  • Falk, Armin
  • Huffman, David
  • Sunde, Uwe
  • Schupp, Jürgen
  • Wagner, Gert G.

Abstract

This paper studies risk attitudes using a large representative survey and a complementary experiment conducted with a representative subject pool in subjects’ homes. Using a question asking people about their willingness to take risks “in general”, we find that gender, age, height, and parental background have an economically significant impacton willingness to take risks. The experiment confirms the behavioral validity of this measure, using paid lottery choices. Turning to other question about risk attitudes in specific contexts, we find similar results on the determinants of risk attitudes, and also shed light on the deeper question of stability of risk attitudes across contexts. We conduct a horse race of the ability of different measures to explain risky behaviors such as holdings stocks, occupational choice, and smoking. The question about risk taking in general generates the best all-around predictor of risky behavior

Suggested Citation

  • Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2009. "Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants and behavioral consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20049, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20049
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2010. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1238-1260.
    2. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2008. "Representative Trust And Reciprocity: Prevalence And Determinants," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(1), pages 84-90, January.
    3. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Eliciting Risk and Time Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 583-618, May.
    4. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    5. repec:feb:artefa:0034 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Juergen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Working Papers 2096, The Field Experiments Website.
    7. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Bernhard von Rosenbladt & J�rgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, "undated". "A Nation-Wide Laboratory: Examining trust and trustworthiness by integrating behavioral experiments into representative surveys," IEW - Working Papers 141, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    8. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2009. "Homo Reciprocans: Survey Evidence on Behavioural Outcomes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 592-612, March.
    9. Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2002. "Maintenance of and Innovation in Long-Term Panel Studies: The Case of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 276, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    10. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
    11. Bonin, Holger & Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Cross-sectional earnings risk and occupational sorting: The role of risk attitudes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 926-937, December.
    12. 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.
    13. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.
    14. Grund, Christian & Sliwka, Dirk, 2006. "Performance Pay and Risk Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 2012, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. David A. Jaeger & Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Holger Bonin, 2010. "Direct Evidence on Risk Attitudes and Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 684-689, August.
    16. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments

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