Are You What You Eat? Experimental Evidence on Health Habits and Risk Preferences
We run an experiment to assess whether preferences for risk significantly differ for individuals with different health habits. We administrate a questionnaire followed by an experimental test to a sample of 120 subjects. The questionnaire measures health characteristics, habits and life style and assesses details about individual nutritional balance, drinking, smoking and physical exercise. We construct a number of individual health and nutritional indexes, including the Healthy Eating Index based on the USDA guidelines. We elicit preferences for risk using variants of the Holt and Laury (2002) paired lotteries test. Conditional on individual health habits and life style variables, we estimate the risk preferences for each subject, using Maximum Likelihood estimation. We observe that risk preferences significantly differ for subjects with different health habits and found some evidence of risk aversion. In particular, while smokers do not appear to be significantly more risk seeking, subjects with high scores of the Healthy Eating Index are characterized by higher degree of risk aversion.
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