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Cross-sectional earnings risk and occupational sorting: The role of risk attitudes

  • Bonin, Holger
  • Dohmen, Thomas J.
  • Falk, Armin
  • Huffman, David
  • Sunde, Uwe

This paper investigates to what extent individuals’ risk preferences are correlated with the cross-sectional earnings risk of their occupation. We exploit data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, which contains a direct survey question about willingness to take risks that has been shown to be a behaviorally valid measure of risk aversion. As a measure of earnings risk, we use the cross-sectional variation in earnings that is left unexplained by human capital variables in Mincerian wage regressions. Our evidence shows that individuals with low willingness to take risks are more likely to work in occupations with low earnings risk. This pattern is found regardless of the level of occupation categories, region, gender and labor market experience.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 20204.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Publication status: Published in Labour Economics 6 14(2007): pp. 926-937
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20204
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  1. Joop Hartog & Erik Plug & Luis Diaz Serrano & Jose Vieira, 2003. "Risk compensation in wages – a replication," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 639-647, July.
  2. Bonin, Holger & Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe, 2006. "Cross-sectional Earnings Risk and Occupational Sorting: The Role of Risk Attitudes," IZA Discussion Papers 1930, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Dohmen T.J. & Falk A., 2010. "Performance pay and multi-dimensional sorting - Productivity, preferences and gender," Research Memorandum 012, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  4. Boyan Jovanovic & Yaw Nyarko, 1996. "Stepping Stone Mobility," NBER Working Papers 5651, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Topel, Robert H, 1984. "Equilibrium Earnings, Turnover, and Unemployment: New Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 500-522, October.
  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. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 1730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Marco Caliendo & Frank Fossen & Alexander Kritikos, 2009. "Risk attitudes of nascent entrepreneurs–new evidence from an experimentally validated survey," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 153-167, February.
  9. Bas Jacobs & Joop Hartog & Wim Vijverberg, 2009. "Self-selection bias in estimated wage premiums for earnings risk," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 271-286, October.
  10. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. E. Elisabet Rutstrom & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau, 2004. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 201, Econometric Society.
  12. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Moore, Michael J, 1995. "Unions, Employment Risks, and Market Provision of Employment Risk Differentials," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 57-70, January.
  14. Thomas DeLeire & Helen Levy, 2004. "Worker Sorting and the Risk of Death on the Job," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 925-954, October.
  15. Brown, Charles, 1980. "Equalizing Differences in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 113-34, February.
  16. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Kunze, Astrid, 2005. "Vocational Training and Gender: Wages and Occupational Mobility among Young Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 1766, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, August.
  18. Hwang, Hae-shin & Reed, W Robert & Hubbard, Carlton, 1992. "Compensating Wage Differentials and Unobserved Productivity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 835-58, August.
  19. Cramer, J. S. & Hartog, J. & Jonker, N. & Van Praag, C. M., 2002. "Low risk aversion encourages the choice for entrepreneurship: an empirical test of a truism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 29-36, May.
  20. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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