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Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion

Author

Listed:
  • Lex Borghans
  • Bart H.H. Golsteyn
  • James J. Heckman
  • Huub Meijers

Abstract

This paper demonstrates gender differences in risk aversion and ambiguity aversion. It also contributes to a growing literature relating economic preference parameters to psychological measures by asking whether variations in preference parameters among persons, and in particular across genders, can be accounted for by differences in personality traits and traits of cognition. Women are more risk averse than men. Over an initial range, women require no further compensation for the introduction of ambiguity but men do. At greater levels of ambiguity, women have the same marginal distaste for increased ambiguity as men. Psychological variables account for some of the interpersonal variation in risk aversion. They explain none of the differences in ambiguity.

Suggested Citation

  • Lex Borghans & Bart H.H. Golsteyn & James J. Heckman & Huub Meijers, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion," NBER Working Papers 14713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14713
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lars Peter Hansen, 2007. "Beliefs, Doubts and Learning: Valuing Macroeconomic Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 1-30, May.
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    3. 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).
    4. Lars Peter Hansen, 2007. "Beliefs, Doubts and Learning: Valuing Economic Risk," NBER Working Papers 12948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. David K. Backus & Bryan R. Routledge & Stanley E. Zin, 2005. "Exotic Preferences for Macroeconomists," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 319-414 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Daniel Ellsberg, 1961. "Risk, Ambiguity, and the Savage Axioms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 643-669.
    7. Powell, Melanie & Ansic, David, 1997. "Gender differences in risk behaviour in financial decision-making: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 605-628, November.
    8. Hartog, Joop & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Jonker, Nicole, 2002. "Linking Measured Risk Aversion to Individual Characteristics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 3-26.
    9. Yoram Halevy, 2007. "Ellsberg Revisited: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 503-536, March.
    10. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
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    12. Julie R. Agnew & Lisa R. Anderson & Jeffrey R. Gerlach & Lisa R. Szykman, 2008. "Who Chooses Annuities? An Experimental Investigation of the Role of Gender, Framing, and Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 418-422, May.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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