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Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants and Behavioral Consequences

Author

Listed:
  • Dohmen Thomas
  • Falk Armin
  • Huffman David
  • Sunde Uwe
  • Schupp Jürgen
  • Wagner Gert

    (ROA rm)

Abstract

This paper studies risk attitudes using a large representative survey and a complementaryexperiment conducted with a representative subject pool in subjects’ homes. Using aquestion asking people about their willingness to take risks “in general†, we find thatgender, age, height, and parental background have an economically significant impacton willingness to take risks. The experiment confirms the behavioral validity of thismeasure, using paid lottery choices. Turning to other question about risk attitudesin specific contexts, we find similar results on the determinants of risk attitudes, andalso shed light on the deeper question of stability of risk attitudes across contexts. Weconduct a horse race of the ability of different measures to explain risky behaviorssuch as holdings stocks, occupational choice, and smoking. The question about risktakingin general generates the best all-around predictor of risky behavior. (JEL codes:D0, D1, D80, D81, C91, C93, J16, J24, I1).

Suggested Citation

  • Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin & Huffman David & Sunde Uwe & Schupp Jürgen & Wagner Gert, 2009. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants and Behavioral Consequences," ROA Research Memorandum 007, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2009006
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    Keywords

    education; training and the labour market;

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments

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