DP9589 Time Varying Risk Aversion

Author(s): Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, Luigi Zingales
Publication Date: August 2013
Keyword(s): Fear, Financial Crisis, Risk Aversion
JEL(s): D1, D8, G11, G12
Programme Areas: Financial Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9589

We use a repeated survey of an Italian bank?s clients to test whether investors? risk aversion increases following the 2008 financial crisis. We find that both a qualitative and a quantitative measure of risk aversion increases substantially after the crisis. After considering standard explanations, we investigate whether this increase might be an emotional response (fear) triggered by a scary experience. To show the plausibility of this conjecture, we conduct a lab experiment. We find that subjects who watched a horror movie have a certainty equivalent that is 27% lower than the ones who did not, supporting the fear-based explanation. Finally, we test the fear-based model with actual trading behavior and find consistent evidence.