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Relative deprivation as a cause of risky behaviors

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  • Stark, Oded

Abstract

Combining a standard measure of concern about low relative wealth and a standard measure of relative risk aversion leads to a novel explanation of variation in risk-taking behavior identified and documented by social psychologists and economists. We obtain two results: (1) Holding individual i's wealth and his rank in the wealth distribution constant, the individual's relative risk aversion decreases when he becomes more relatively deprived as a result of an increase in the average wealth of the individuals who are wealthier than he is. (2) If relative deprivation enters the individual's utility function approximately linearly then, holding constant individual i's wealth and the average wealth of the individuals who are wealthier than he is, the individual's relative risk aversion decreases when he becomes more relatively deprived as a result of a decline in his rank. Our findings provide a theoretical support for evidence about the propensity of relatively deprived individuals to gamble and resort to other risky behaviors.

Suggested Citation

  • Stark, Oded, 2019. "Relative deprivation as a cause of risky behaviors," University of Tübingen Working Papers in Business and Economics 125, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, School of Business and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuewef:125
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ana I. Balsa & Michael T. French & Tracy L. Regan, 2014. "Relative Deprivation and Risky Behaviors," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(2), pages 446-471.
    2. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    3. Stark, Oded & Bielawski, Jakub & Falniowski, Fryderyk, 2017. "A class of proximity-sensitive measures of relative deprivation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 105-110.
    4. Kawachi, Ichiro & Kennedy, Bruce P. & Wilkinson, Richard G., 1999. "Crime: social disorganization and relative deprivation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(6), pages 719-731, March.
    5. Oded Stark, 2019. "On Social Preferences and the Intensity of Risk Aversion," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 86(3), pages 807-826, September.
    6. Stark, Oded & Budzinski, Wiktor & Jakubek, Marcin, 2019. "Pure rank preferences and variation in risk-taking behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    7. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson & Norman J. Johnson, 2013. "Relative Status and Well-Being: Evidence from U.S. Suicide Deaths," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1480-1500, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social preferences; Relative deprivation; Concern about low relative wealth; Risk aversion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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