Based on data from the four 2004-2010 waves of the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we show that financial risk taking is significantly related to life-history negative events out of an individual’s control. Using observed portfolio decisions to proxy for risk taking, we find correlation with two of such individual-specific events: having been victim of a physical attack and (especially) the loss of a child are associated with lower and less frequent investments in risky assets, with an intensity similar to that of the beginning, in 2008, of a collectively experienced event such as the recent financial crisis. We also find evidence that the correlation of risk taking with a child loss is long-lasting, as opposed to the correlation with a physical attack that disappears after few years. Our analysis is more in favor of a preference-based – rather than a belief-based – explanation of the observed change in risk taking. Overall our findings indicate that the past, especially through the loss of a child, casts a long shadow that extends over individuals’ current decisions also within unrelated domains.

The Shadow of the Past: Financial Risk Taking and Negative Life Events

BUCCIOL, Alessandro;ZARRI, Luca
2015-01-01

Abstract

Based on data from the four 2004-2010 waves of the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we show that financial risk taking is significantly related to life-history negative events out of an individual’s control. Using observed portfolio decisions to proxy for risk taking, we find correlation with two of such individual-specific events: having been victim of a physical attack and (especially) the loss of a child are associated with lower and less frequent investments in risky assets, with an intensity similar to that of the beginning, in 2008, of a collectively experienced event such as the recent financial crisis. We also find evidence that the correlation of risk taking with a child loss is long-lasting, as opposed to the correlation with a physical attack that disappears after few years. Our analysis is more in favor of a preference-based – rather than a belief-based – explanation of the observed change in risk taking. Overall our findings indicate that the past, especially through the loss of a child, casts a long shadow that extends over individuals’ current decisions also within unrelated domains.
Risk Taking; Financial Asset Ownership; Negative Life Events; Behavioral Finance
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/894982
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