IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/15686.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How general are risk preferences? Choices under uncertainty in different domains

Author

Listed:
  • Liran Einav
  • Amy Finkelstein
  • Iuliana Pascu
  • Mark R. Cullen

Abstract

We examine the extent to which an individual's actual insurance and investment choices display a stable ranking in willingness to bear risk, relative to his peers, across different contexts. We do so by examining the same individuals' decisions regarding their 401(k) asset allocations and their choices in five different employer-provided insurance domains, including health and disability insurance. We reject the null that there is no domain-general component of preferences. Among the five insurance domains, the magnitude of the domain-general component of preferences appears substantial; we find for example that one's choices in other insurance domains are substantially more predictive of one's choice in a given insurance domain than either one's detailed demographic characteristics or one's claims experience in that domain. However, we find considerably less predictive power between one's insurance choices and the riskiness of one's 401(k) asset allocations, suggesting that the common element of an individual's preferences may be stronger among domains that are "closer" in context. We also find that the relationship between insurance and investment choices appears considerably larger for employees who may be associated with better "financial sophistication." Overall, we view our findings as largely consistent with an important domain-general component of risk preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Iuliana Pascu & Mark R. Cullen, 2010. "How general are risk preferences? Choices under uncertainty in different domains," NBER Working Papers 15686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15686
    Note: AG HC IO PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15686.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Levon Barseghyan & Francesca Molinari & Ted O'Donoghue & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2013. "The Nature of Risk Preferences: Evidence from Insurance Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2499-2529, October.
    3. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2003. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1007-1047.
    4. V. Kerry Smith & Donald H. Taylor & Frank A. Sloan, 2001. "Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1126-1134, September.
    5. David M. Cutler & Edward Glaeser, 2005. "What Explains Differences in Smoking, Drinking, and Other Health-Related Behaviors?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 238-242, May.
    6. Alma Cohen & Liran Einav, 2007. "Estimating Risk Preferences from Deductible Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 745-788, June.
    7. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1996. "Income Risk, Borrowing Constraints, and Portfolio Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 158-172, March.
    8. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2007. "Baby Boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and housing wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 205-224, January.
    9. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Mark R. Cullen, 2010. "Estimating Welfare in Insurance Markets Using Variation in Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 877-921.
    10. Christopher Chabris & David Laibson & Carrie Morris & Jonathon Schuldt & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2008. "Individual laboratory-measured discount rates predict field behavior," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 237-269, December.
    11. 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.
    12. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
    13. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Iuliana Pascu & Mark R. Cullen, 2012. "How General Are Risk Preferences? Choices under Uncertainty in Different Domains," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2606-2638, October.
    14. Slovic, Paul, 1972. "Psychological Study of Human Judgment: Implications for Investment Decision-Making," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 27(4), pages 779-799, September.
    15. Glenn W Harrison & John A List & Charles Towe, 2007. "Naturally Occurring Preferences and Exogenous Laboratory Experiments: A Case Study of Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 433-458, March.
    16. Schoemaker, Paul J H, 1993. "Determinants of Risk-Taking: Behavioral and Economic Views," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 49-73, January.
    17. Cicchetti, Charles J & Dubin, Jeffrey A, 1994. "A Microeconometric Analysis of Risk Aversion and the Decision to Self-Insure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 169-186, February.
    18. David A. Wise, 2005. "Analyses in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise05-1.
    19. Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2001. "Anomalies: Risk Aversion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 219-232, Winter.
    20. Li Gan & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden, 2005. "Individual Subjective Survival Curves," NBER Chapters, in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 377-412, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Miles S. Kimball & Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2009. "Risk Preferences in the PSID: Individual Imputations and Family Covariation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 363-368, May.
    22. Levon Barseghyan & Jeffrey Prince & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2011. "Are Risk Preferences Stable across Contexts? Evidence from Insurance Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 591-631, April.
    23. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 2002. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 966-985, October.
    24. Robert B. Barsky & F. Thomas Juster & Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-579.
    25. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2013. "Who Is ‘Behavioral’? Cognitive Ability And Anomalous Preferences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(6), pages 1231-1255, December.
    26. Syngjoo Choi & Raymond Fisman & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2007. "Consistency and Heterogeneity of Individual Behavior under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1921-1938, December.
    27. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Lost In State Space: Are Preferences Stable?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(3), pages 1091-1112, August.
    28. Gollier, Christian & Pratt, John W, 1996. "Risk Vulnerability and the Tempering Effect of Background Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1109-1123, September.
    29. Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2005. "What Explains Differences in Smoking, Drinking, and Other Health Related Behaviors," Scholarly Articles 2664274, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    30. Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2006. "Multiple Dimensions of Private Information: Evidence from the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 938-958, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Li Donni, P., 2010. "Risk Preference Heterogeneity And Multiple Demand For Insurance," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 10/17, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    2. Daniel Paravisini & Veronica Rappoport & Enrichetta Ravina, 2017. "Risk Aversion and Wealth: Evidence from Person-to-Person Lending Portfolios," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(2), pages 279-297, February.
    3. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2013. "Who Is ‘Behavioral’? Cognitive Ability And Anomalous Preferences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(6), pages 1231-1255, December.
    4. Raj Chetty & Amy Finkelstein, 2012. "Social Insurance: Connecting Theory to Data," NBER Working Papers 18433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Johannes Spinnewijn, 2017. "Heterogeneity, Demand for Insurance, and Adverse Selection," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 308-343, February.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:34330197 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Andreas Richter & Jörg Schiller & Harris Schlesinger, 2014. "Behavioral insurance: Theory and experiments," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 85-96, April.
    8. Galizzi, Matteo M. & Miraldo, Marisa & Stavropoulou, Charitini & van der Pol, Marjon, 2016. "Doctor–patient differences in risk and time preferences: A field experiment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 171-182.
    9. Menkhoff, Lukas & Sakha, Sahra, 2017. "Estimating risky behavior with multiple-item risk measures," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 59-86.
    10. Jonathan P. Beauchamp & David Cesarini & Magnus Johannesson, 2017. "The psychometric and empirical properties of measures of risk preferences," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 54(3), pages 203-237, June.
    11. Luigi Guiso, 2015. "A Test of Narrow Framing and its Origin," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 1(1), pages 61-100, March.
    12. Marc A. Ragin & Benjamin L. Collier & Johannes G. Jaspersen, 2021. "The effect of information disclosure on demand for high‐load insurance," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 88(1), pages 161-193, March.
    13. Jose Apesteguia & Miguel Angel Ballester, 2014. "Discrete Choice Estimation of Risk Aversion," Working Papers 788, Barcelona School of Economics.
    14. Veronica Rappoport & Enrichetta Ravina & Daniel Paravisini, 2010. "Risk Aversion and Wealth: Evidence from Person-to-Person Lending Portfolios," 2010 Meeting Papers 664, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    15. Shane Frederick & Amanda Levis & Steven Malliaris & Andrew Meyer, 2018. "Valuing bets and hedges: Implications for the construct of risk preference," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 13(6), pages 501-508, November.
    16. Hvide, Hans K. & Panos, Georgios A., 2014. "Risk tolerance and entrepreneurship," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 200-223.
    17. Levon Barseghyan & Francesca Molinari & Ted O'Donoghue & Joshua C. Teitelbaum, 2013. "The Nature of Risk Preferences: Evidence from Insurance Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2499-2529, October.
    18. James J. Choi & Adriana Z. Robertson, 2020. "What Matters to Individual Investors? Evidence from the Horse's Mouth," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 75(4), pages 1965-2020, August.
    19. Menkhoff, Lukas & Sakha, Sahra, 2014. "Multiple-item risk measures," Kiel Working Papers 1980, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    20. Fezzi, Carlo & Menapace, Luisa & Raffaelli, Roberta, 2021. "Estimating risk preferences integrating insurance choices with subjective beliefs," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 135(C).
    21. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Paul Schrimpf, 2007. "The Welfare Cost of Asymmetric Information: Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market," NBER Working Papers 13228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15686. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.