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Intergenerational Transmission of Risk Preferences, Entrepreneurship, and Growth

  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    (University of Zurich)

  • Matthias Doepke

    (Northwestern University)

We develop a theory of the intergenerational transmission of risk preferences. Parents can instill either risk tolerance or risk aversion in their children, and face both altruistic and paternalistic motives in this process. Risk-tolerant children are more likely to benefit from profitable but risky opportunities, such as the career choice of being an entrepreneur. However, risk-tolerant children may also engage in other risky choices (such as smoking or riding motorcycles) that the parents disagree with. In our model, the transmission of risk preferences feeds back into the growth rate of the economy, because risk-taking entrepreneurs are essential for endogenous technological innovation. The theory has implications for how the extent and nature of risk in the economic environment affects the transmission of risk preferences, entrepreneurship, and growth.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 246.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:246
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Oded Galor & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2011. "Evolution and the Growth Process: Natural Selection of Entrepreneurial Traits," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000116, David K. Levine.
  2. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2012. "Gender differences in risk behaviour: does nurture matter?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(558), pages F56-F78, 02.
  3. van Praag, C M & Cramer, J S, 2001. "The Roots of Entrepreneurship and Labour Demand: Individual Ability and Low Risk Aversion," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(269), pages 45-62, February.
  4. 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.
  5. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-48, August.
  6. Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Culture and institutions: economic development in the regions of Europe," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000241, David K. Levine.
  7. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "Social Class and the Spirit of Capitalism," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 516-524, 04/05.
  8. Hugo A. Hopenhayn & Galina Vereshchagina, 2003. "Risk Taking by Entrepreneurs," RCER Working Papers 500, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  9. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," Economics Discussion Papers 672, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
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