Though risk attitude is central to economics and finance, relatively little is known about how it is formed and how it changes over time. Based on US data from a dedicated psycho-social module on lifestyle of the 2010 Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we provide new evidence on the correlation between financial risk attitude and life-history negative events out of an individual’s control. Using observed portfolio decisions to proxy for risk aversion, we find correlation with two of such events: having been in a natural disaster and (especially) the loss of a child. These effects survive after controlling for classic socio-demographic determinants of risk aversion.
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