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Risky Business – The Role of Individual Risk Attitudes in Occupational Choice

  • Ingo E. Isphording

    ()

This study analyzes the relationship of individual risk attitudes and occupational sorting with respect to occupational earnings risk. By using the German Mikrozensus, a precise measure for earnings risk is computed as the occupation-wide standard deviation of wages. Following the procedure proposed by Bonin (2007), this earnings risk measure is used as dependent variable in cross-sectional and panel data estimations using the SOEP data of 2004 and 2006, including a measure of the individual willingness to take risks. The significant relationship in cross-sectional analyses vanishes when controlling for unobserved heterogeneity. Cross-sectional results seem to be driven by the correlation of unobserved ability and willingness to take risks, and are potentially biased by an attenuation bias due to unstable risk preferences. This study contributes to the existing literature by showing the importance of controlling for unobserved heterogeneity and instability of attitudes when examing the effects of personality traits in labor market decisions.

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Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0187.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0187
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  1. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin, 2011. "Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting - Productivity, Preferences and Gender," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 360, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  2. 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).
  3. Ham, Roger & Junankar, Pramod N. (Raja) & Wells, Robert, 2009. "Occupational Choice: Personality Matters," IZA Discussion Papers 4105, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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).
  5. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
  6. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2002. "Just Like Daddy: The occupational choice of UK Graduates," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 47, Royal Economic Society.
  7. 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.
  8. Hui Shan & David Powell, 2010. "Income taxes, compensating differentials, and occupational choice: how taxes distort the wage-amenity decision," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-04, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Parker,Simon C., 2004. "The Economics of Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521828130, November.
  10. Allan G. King, 1974. "Occupational Choice, Risk Aversion, and Wealth," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 27(4), pages 586-596, July.
  11. 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.
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