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Estimating risk attitudes in conventional and artefactual lab experiments: The importance of the underlying assumptions

  • Drichoutis, Andreas C.
  • Koundouri, Phoebe

In this paper the authors assess the importance of sample type in the estimation of risk preferences. The authors elicit and compare risk preferences from student subjects and subjects drawn from the general population, using the multiple price list method devised by Holt and Laury (Risk aversion and incentive effects, 2002). The authors find evidence suggesting that under Rank Dependent Utility and an expo-power function, students exhibit similar risk attitudes to subjects drawn from the general population. However, when the authors assume an incorrect characterization of risk preferences, in particular they adopt the framework of Expected Utility theory and a Constant Relative Risk Aversion function, their estimation results lead to erroneous inferences. In this case, students are on average risk averse, while subjects drawn from the general population exhibit risk loving preferences. The results have implications for economic policy making under uncertainty.

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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 2012-19.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:201219
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  1. Phoebe Koundouri & Céline Nauges & Vangelis Tzouvelekas, 2006. "Technology Adoption under Production Uncertainty: Theory and Application to Irrigation Technology," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(3), pages 657-670.
  2. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2007. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark: A Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 341-368, 06.
  3. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  4. Xavier Vollenweider & Salvatore Di Falco & Cathal O�Donoghue, 2011. "Risk preferences and voluntary agrienvironmental schemes: does risk aversion explain the uptake of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme?," GRI Working Papers 48, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  5. Harrison, Glenn W. & Lau, Morten I. & Elisabet Rutström, E., 2009. "Risk attitudes, randomization to treatment, and self-selection into experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 498-507, June.
  6. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  7. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
  8. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  9. Drichoutis, Andreas & Lusk, Jayson, 2012. "Judging statistical models of individual decision making under risk using in- and out-of-sample criteria," MPRA Paper 38951, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Sheryl Ball & Catherine C. Eckel & Maria Heracleous, 2008. "Risk Aversion and Physical Prowess: Prediction, Choice and Bias," Working Papers e07-11, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics.
  11. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutstr�m, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
  12. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  13. Andersen, Steffen & Harrison, Glenn W. & Lau, Morten Igel & Rutström, E. Elisabet, 2010. "Preference heterogeneity in experiments: Comparing the field and laboratory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 209-224, February.
  14. Karagiannis, Giannis, 1999. "Proportional Profit Taxes And Resource Management Under Production Uncertainty," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(02), December.
  15. Murat Isik, 2002. "Resource Management under Production and Output Price Uncertainty: Implications for Environmental Policy," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(3), pages 557-571.
  16. Wilcox, Nathaniel T., 2011. "'Stochastically more risk averse:' A contextual theory of stochastic discrete choice under risk," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 162(1), pages 89-104, May.
  17. Lisa R. Anderson & Jennifer M. Mellor, 2008. "Are Risk Preferences Stable? Comparing an Experimental Measure with a Validated Survey-Based Measure," Working Papers 74, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  18. Phoebe Koundouri & Marita Laukkanen & Sami Myyrä & Céline Nauges, 2009. "The effects of EU agricultural policy changes on farmers' risk attitudes," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 36(1), pages 53-77, March.
  19. Chetan Dave & Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Christian Rojas, 2010. "Eliciting risk preferences: When is simple better?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 219-243, December.
  20. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten Lau & Elisabet E. Rutstroem, 2011. "Discounting Behavior: A Reconsideration," Working Papers 2011_01, Durham University Business School.
  21. Glenn Harrison & E. Rutström, 2009. "Expected utility theory and prospect theory: one wedding and a decent funeral," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 133-158, June.
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