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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. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk, 2011. "Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting: Productivity, Preferences, and Gender," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 556-90, April.
  2. 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.
  3. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Schupp, Jürgen & Sunde, Uwe & Wagner, Gert Georg, 2006. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 5517, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Jovanovic, B. & Nyarko, Y., 1996. "Stepping Stone Mobility," Working Papers 96-26, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank M. & Kritikos, Alexander S., 2006. "Risk Attitudes of Nascent Entrepreneurs: New Evidence from an Experimentally Validated Survey," Discussion Papers 252, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
  10. 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.
  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. 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. E. Elisabet Rutstrom & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau, 2004. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 201, Econometric Society.
  14. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  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. Brown, Charles, 1980. "Equalizing Differences in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 113-34, February.
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